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Why Are People Stealing Catalytic Converters Around Houston, TX?

March 8th, 2023

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You may have heard about the rise of catalytic converter theft in the news or know someone in the Houston area who auto part thieves have directly impacted. Stealing these valuable car parts isn't anything new. However, since 2020 with the economy steering toward a recession and lawlessness plaguing major cities across the country, Houston and the surrounding suburbs have seen an uptick in converter theft, and the numbers are astonishing.

This auto part is so valuable to criminals because it is easy to get to with a saw and takes less than a minute or two to remove from a vehicle. A catalytic converter has precious metals encased inside of the housing. Expensive metals such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium are what help clean and purify your car's exhaust before it is expelled through the tailpipe.

How Many Catalytic Converters are Stolen in Houston?

There is no solid answer to this question since there are more theft reports daily in and around Houston. However, in a recent article by, Harris County police say they have recovered more than 470 stolen catalytic converters in a recent bust. Tallying up to 11.6 million in damages done by the organized crime ring within one hundred miles surrounding the city of Houston.

In 2019, reports indicated only 375 catalytic converter thefts for the year. In 2021 thefts jumped to 7,800 reports, and today there is a daily average of 30 reports of stolen converters which is a 123% increase from 2021. To crackdown on catalytic converter thefts, the city has criminalized anyone possessing a cut catalytic converter. The state has also made it a felony to steal and sell stolen catalytic converters. Houston drivers will now need proof of ownership for the possession of a cut converter piece for resale.

Top Car Targets for Catalytic Converter Theft in Houston

Catalytic converter robberies have hit everywhere from greater Houston to the communities of Katy, Spring, and The Woodlands. Since all gas-powered vehicles have catalytic converters, any car can be targeted by thieves. However, there are a few car models that top the list for criminals looking to steal and resell your catalytic converter for a quick buck.

As of late, some of the most common car targets for catalytic converter theft are SUVs and fleet vehicles. Larger vehicles like the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra are usually easier to slide beneath and tend to remain outside throughout the day and night. They also obtain more expensive models inside a larger catalytic converter. The Toyota Prius is targeted too since it has two catalytic converters located beneath the undercarriage.

According to CarFax, the most common car models that thieves gravitate toward for stealing a catalytic converter are the:

  • Subaru Outback
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Honda Accord
  • Ford Econoline
  • Honda Element
  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Toyota Prius
  • How Can I Prevent my Catalytic Converter from Being Stolen?

    If you can keep your car inside your garage at night or park in well-lit areas when out and about, you may avoid becoming a target. Whether you drive one of the most sought-for car models for catalytic converter theft or a vehicle that's not on the list, remember you're always at risk. Whether you're catching a movie at your local theater or inside your place of work throughout the day with your car sitting in the parking lot, thieves can strike anywhere at any time, and it only takes minutes to detach your converter and disappear.

    The best way to protect against catalytic converter theft is to add a catalytic converter shield to your undercarriage. With an affordable solution and simple installation, drivers can save the money and hassle of paying for a replacement catalytic converter which can run a bill of up to $2500. Learn more about Cat Security products and how you can guard your undercarriage from potential thieves.