Catalytic converter theft remains issue in Waco a year after new law

A year-old state law targeting theft of vehicles’ catalytic converters brought a brief dip in the crime, but has by no means eliminated the issue, numbers from Waco police show.

Waco police received 261 reports of catalytic converter theft this year through Sept. 28, compared to 361 reports of catalytic converter theft in all of last year. The thefts started to arise as a significant issue locally in 2020, and police continue to investigate many cases, area law enforcement officials said.

“When we first started seeing these cases in 2020 there were only a few with mostly car dealerships such as Toyota and Ford being targeted,” said Robert James, a detective in the Waco Police Department’s theft unit.

Thieves target catalytic converters, which are pollution control devices on vehicles’ exhaust systems, because they contain valuable metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium, that can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars an ounce.

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Lt. Mike Gates with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office said he has seen video of thieves stealing a single catalytic converter in about a minute.

The state law passed in the most recent legislative session advanced as House Bill 4110 and took effect in September of last year. James said the law creates three requirements for buyers of catalytic converters. He said it requires buyers to have sellers provide the title of the vehicle the converter came from, it requires buyers to keep the title information for a year, and it requires buyers to implement a numbering system allowing them to determine exactly who sold a converter.

When the law took effect, officials saw a dip in cases, but the pace of catalytic converter thefts has bounced back, James said.

M. Lipsitz & Co. Ltd., and Commercial Metals Company in

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