A man suspected of stealing catalytic converters from vehicles at a suburban Houston apartment complex was fatally shot by police after allegedly pointing a gun at an officer, according to authorities.
Officers were called to an apartment complex in Sugar Land around 10:05 p.m. Thursday after residents reported several individuals stealing catalytic converters.
Three suspected thieves led officers on a short car chase before they abandoned the vehicle in a field and ran away, according to Sugar Land police.
Police used a drone to track one of the suspects as he ran through the field, said Assistant Police Chief James Davis.
“As a perimeter was set up, the suspect produced a weapon and the officer returned fire, shooting the suspect,” Davis said.
The suspect, who was not immediately identified, was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
Officers are still searching for the other men who were in the vehicle.
There has been a nationwide surge of thefts of catalytic converters, which filter pollutants from car exhaust. They’re made with precious metals, sit on the underside of a vehicle and can be removed in a matter of minutes with a machine-powered saw.
Thieves can expect to get anywhere from $50 to $300 if they sell the converters to scrap yards, which then sell them to recycling facilities to reclaim the precious metals inside, including platinum, palladium and rhodium.
Confrontations between catalytic converters thieves and car owners have become dangerous and deadly.
In March, an off-duty Texas deputy sheriff was killed in a shooting on the northern outskirts of Houston when he interrupted three men apparently trying to steal the catalytic converter from his vehicle.