NewsLocal News


Catalytic converter thefts: car insurance agencies, local mechanics address trends in vehicles being hit

Posted at 8:48 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 22:02:55-04

Car insurance agencies are seeing more and more customers filing claims after finding out that the catalytic converter has been cut out of their vehicles' exhaust system.

A study by State Farm found that in 2020, they paid out over $1-million for over 440 theft claims in Texas alone.

If that number seems high, that is nothing compared to where we are only halfway through 2021.

"In the first half of 2021 alone, we’re at 1,380 thefts at $2.6-million,” said Traci Plemons, State Farm Insurance Agent.

That is triple the amount for all of last year, and that’s not the only thing they are noticing. They are also seeing a trend in vehicles being hit.

"The two most common vehicles that we are seeing this issue with are Toyota Tundras and Toyota Prius,” said Plemons.

So it’s no surprise that a Toyota Tundra missing catalytic converters is sitting in the parking lot of Bill’s Muffler Shop in Killeen.

"This little Tundra that we have in our parking lot right now, it’s got four missing and it's brand new and it was sitting at the dealership when it happened,” said James Parish, owner of Bill’s Muffler shop.

Just like State Farm, Bill’s Muffler Shop is seeing more and more customers, sometimes three or more a day, that could tell something was definitely wrong with their exhaust.

"If a converter is gone, you’ll know it right away. It will go from being just a nice quiet vehicle to sounding like it belongs on the quarter-mile track,” said Parish.

Though the employees at Bill’s Muffler Shop like to stay busy, this is not the kind of work they want.

They would rather install protective cages around catalytic converters because they say it is just too easy to steal them.

"You can steal them anywhere. You can go into HEB, come out and your converter sounds like a NASCAR. I mean, they’re just thieves and need to be stopped,” said Parish.

Motor vehicle-related thefts are rising fast in Texas, so the Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority awarded $13.6 million in funding to law enforcement agencies to help with prevention.

To prevent the crime yourself, it is important to make sure that your vehicle is parked in a well-lit area with the alarm on and, if you can afford to, you can get a protective cage installed over the catalytic converter on your car.