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Corpus Christi sees a surge in catalytic convertor theft from vehicles

These parts, which go for a couple hundred bucks, can be taken from your vehicle in just a few seconds.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Criminals are after catalytic convertors these days, and once they've gotten their hands on yours, you will be looking at a very long wait time to have it replaced.

Our Ashley Gonzalez experienced this problem first hand at the beginning of the year, and in her case, it took three whole months for it to be replaced.

These parts, which go for a couple hundred bucks, can be taken in just a few seconds. "I've seen some take them in less than 20 seconds," Rick's Body Shop Owner Rick Cruz said. "It's no time at all to saw through the exhaust and take off with them."

The Corpus Christi Police Department said in 11 months, 429 stolen catalytic convertors were reported. "Typically the criminals are targeting areas where there's a high concentration of vehicles," CCPD Public Information Officer Michael Pena explained. "So, big parking lots and apartment complexes where there's a multitude of vehicles, not so much in the neighborhoods." 

The most targeted vehicles in the city were: 

  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Toyota Tundra
  • Ford F-150
  • Ford F-250

The surge in thefts picked up in Corpus Christi about eight months ago and Cruz said this is because catalytic convertors have become a hot commodity. "They got them for eight cars last night, or six cars the week before. We would hear it from all over the industry," Cruz added.

Unfortunately, it's also illegal to drive your vehicle without one. "They might pull you over and give you a ticket. You have to explain to them and sometimes they'll let you go, sometimes they won't," Cruz explained. 

Cruz also described how driving with the part missing can cause you to burn up more fuel. "It's not restricting it, so it's going to be straight airflow. It's gong to run rough. It's just one thing leading to another. That's why you need it, so the emissions are running freely and clearly through the vehicle."

With all of this in mind, it's very clear that it's important to keep your catalytic convertor safe. Luckily, Cruz mentioned a few ways to protect your vehicle, and even put those practices to use on Ashley Gonzalez's truck.

"Some have actually powder coated it and put 'stolen' on them," he shared. "Now, the newer thing I've seen has been a cable that you weld to a pipe through the catalytic converter. It's harder to cut through the cable than it is to cut through the pipe."

Other tips for those interested in protecting their vehicles include getting an alarm, putting your VIN number on the convertor, and parking in well-lit areas. 

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