HOUSTON – Denise Maxwell is all too familiar with the rampant theft of catalytic converters across Houston.
The Collision Fix operator in northwest Harris County has two more vehicles scheduled for next week that need converter replacements. “It’s getting deadly. You walk outside and someone plays with your truck, they’re going to kill you because of your catalytic converter,” Maxwell said.
This is the state of vehicle crime throughout the region. Any small piece of your vehicle is a coveted prize for thieves. It only takes a few to translate into thousands of dollars,
“It’s a huge business right now,” Maxwell added. “It’s easier for someone to steal a ‘cat’ and make money from it than to go to work for a week.”
Unlike in years past, criminals who steal are not strictly focused on vehicle break-ins according to law enforcement.
“I think what’s happening is they’re saying it’s easy money, so all the criminals are coming together,” said Lt. Hal Barrow, commander of the auto crime task force. of Galveston County.
Burrow says thefts are a daily problem. They too are organized and increasingly violent.
“They work as a group to do this, then when you unknowingly get in your car, they pull out a gun and start shooting at you. It can happen to anyone,” Burrow said.
Houston Police Department sources confirm to KPRC 2 Investigates that the department is looking into creating a catalytic converter task force.
State Sen. John Whitmire, who chairs the Capitol’s criminal justice committee, said he expects thefts to be a key topic at next month’s meeting in Houston.
Maxwell’s message to lawmakers? Focus on those who buy.
“To get to where these stores that take them in, they have to have some sort of paperwork that shows they got out of a total vehicle,” Maxwell said.
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