SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — East Texas is seeing another rash of catalytic converter thefts. According to the Smith County Sheriffs Office, used car lots in rural areas have been a target lately.

“It’s not really particular on what area they’re hitting on, they’re hitting all over the county,” said Sergeant Larry Christian. “But we have seen an uptick on 155 south.”

J&L Auto Sales are one of the car lots that have been burglarized. The owner, Jimmy Brown, says he’s reported more thefts in the last year than in his entire 40 year car sales career.

“[They need] to find a way to cut the source out for selling,” Brown said. “I have one car they stole the catalytic converter on… and it’s going to cost about $1,900 to put it back together, on top of waiting five months for the part to come in.”

Laura Recktenwald owns a business in Longview affected by this uptick in converter thefts.

“It’s very frustrating because it offered relatively little value to them,” she said. “I mean obviously if they can steal something that’s worth a couple hundred dollars I understand it might be a temptation, but it costs the business owner a lot more than that [to replace].”

She was told she’d have to pay $1,500 and the part is on an indefinite back order.

Law enforcement encourages business owners to make sure they have working cameras because a lot of the investigations go unsolved because there were no surveillance cameras around.

A bill was passed on September 1, 2021, that prohibits people from buying a catalytic converter without taking fingerprints from the seller but as of now, Smith County law enforcement said thefts in East Texas are still on the rise.