SAN ANTONIO – Police officers in Seguin are searching for a person tied to three catalytic converter thefts outside Texas Lutheran University.
Police said the thefts happened at approximately 1 a.m. on Saturday in a dorm parking lot.
The suspect vehicle was caught on camera making “numerous loops at a high rate of speed throughout the campus” on the morning of the thefts, police said.
The driver is believed to be someone who lives in the area.
Police said in recent months, there has been an increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts.
“It is very quick,” said Sarah Wallace, community outreach officer with the department. “They go under, and it takes about two or three minutes to get the converter and then they are out of there. It is one of the higher thefts that we see because of how fast it is. Then they just go to a scrap place, sell them and make their money back.”
Wallace said police have noticed a trend where thieves target foreign vehicles instead of domestic ones because they can get more money from the metals inside of them.
“With domestic catalytic converters, they can be sold for close to $50, where the foreign can be sold for upward of $500,” she said. “Things like Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas are what we see a lot more versus Fords and Chevrolets, etc.”
With new state legislation making the crime of knowingly purchasing a stolen catalytic converter a state jail felony, many scrap metal places are very cautious.
“You have to provide documentation, such as a title, vehicle registration -- if you got it from an auction, auction papers -- or if it was serviced at a shop, then the shop invoice for that service,” said one mechanic who asked not to be identified. “We will give the authorities every piece of information we have on that individual. We do not want stolen material in our yard.”
Despite being careful, they say it is difficult to tell if someone is not being truthful.
“It is kind of an honor system, and (buyers) have to believe that this person is coming in to just sell their property and that is the truth, but luckily on the other end, (buyers) do work with us when we come to them,” Wallace said.
She said it is best to be aware of your surroundings.
If you notice someone acting suspicious around vehicles or lying underneath a vehicle and you hear a metal on metal-cutting sound, then call police.
Wallace said it is also best to park in lit, high-traffic areas around a lot of vehicles.
“Give us a call, even if its nothing,” Wallace said. “We would rather come by and it be noting versus you waking up the next morning finding that your car was hit.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact SPD at 830-379-2123 or Guadalupe County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-403-8477 (TIPS).