UNIVERSAL CITY, Texas – Steve Acosta, manager at Quality Care Automotive in Universal City, says catalytic converter thieves have targeted his store about 3-4 times since October, including the automobile sales lot next door.
“The reason they’re so expensive is because there are precious metals that are inside of them,” Acosta said.
Some metals in the car parts can be more expensive than gold.
But Acosta says his business is not the only one affected by the thefts. He says he got about eight calls from stranded customers last month who had also become victims.
“I had one customer in a jeep where they did some extensive damage, they destroyed all of the brake lines, they cut holes into the actual frame and they cut the wire harness,” Acosta said.
Acosta said the damages to the Jeep cost thousands of dollars to repair.
The stolen auto parts are sold to recycling facilities. Acosta says those companies should have a protocol to ensure that stolen parts are not being sold to them.
The Universal City Police Department says they have had two reports of similar thefts last week from an apartment complex parking lot.
Acosta says there is very little that can be done to track down the stolen items, so it’s up to victims to look out and alert one another.
“We get hit. We call the shops that are close to us and we tell them, ‘hey, you know, they hit us, keep your eyes open,’” Acosta said. “So, if everybody kind of works together, we can probably kind of weed them out.”
The Kerrville Police Department reported five similar reports of catalytic converter thefts in the last two weeks. Three of the five were from commercial vehicle lots and two were from residential areas.
The Alamo Heights Police Department and the Windcrest Police Department said they have also taken reports of similar instances in recent weeks and months, though no official number was given.
Acosta says from his experience Chevy Trucks, Ford Explorers, Ford Escapes and diesel trucks are the easiest targets. In some instances, whole trucks are stolen just for that part.
He says thieves can get away with the crime in five minutes and the best victims can do it in even less time than that.
“Until somebody can come up with some kind of deal where people can’t sell them without certain licensing or something like that, that’s the only way that’s going to be able to stop it,” Acosta said.