TONIGHT AT 10: Catalytic converter theft on the rise in East Texas, costing victims thousands

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The hottest ticket for car thieves right now is not quite the cars themselves, but something underneath. Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, not only in East Texas but across the nation.

The catalytic converter is a precious piece of metal underneath your car, designed to burn hydrocarbons and other toxic ingredients stemming from the exhaust. It was implemented back in 1975 by the Environmental Protection Agency in order to safeguard nature. Today, it’s an absolute necessity to pass state inspections.

The soaring prices of the metal within the critical emissions-control device are catching the eyes of criminals looking to make a quick buck, triggering a black market of theft in East Texas. It’s a crime thieves continue to pull off in a matter of seconds. “They’re just cutting them off the cars in a few minutes and they’re taking them to the scrapyard, and they’re getting scrap value,” said Wayne Waggoner with Texas Muffler and Automotive in Lufkin.

“Converters have what is used to process hydrocarbons, these toxic materials. They use palladium, platinum, and rhodium…Those are the three primary ingredients and metals they’re using. Platinum, I think today, is $1,254 an ounce.”

WAYNE WAGGONER, OWNER OF TEXAS MUFFLER AND AUTOMOTIVE

In the past month, a Lufkin man was charged with stealing catalytic converters from church vans. Bradley Brown, 37, was arrested after he was caught by a police officer running from the parking lot of the Abundant Life United Methodist Church, 1715 Sayer St., at 3:45 a.m., said information from the city. “I was shocked, but then I remembered that I had heard about how that was going on in other places,” said pastor, David Briggs.  

“I was very frustrated…Those two vans are important, they’re the transportation for everything that we do.” 

David briggs, pastor of abundant life united methodist church

The officer went to the church in response to a caller a suspicious person apparently cutting something off a church van. The man ran from the parking lot into nearby woods. A short time later, he came out of the woods and was surrounded by officers.

Officers took as evidence three catalytic converters, a battery charger, and a Dewalt brand power saw found outside the church. Brown was charged with theft and evading arrest.

This is just one incident, and any car left outside is a target.

Wednesday on KETK News at 10, we investigate why these car parts are disappearing so fast, leaving East Texas drivers fuming. Automotive experts tell us just why this unseen piece of your car is so valuable and what you can do to protect yourself in the future.

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