Catalytic Converter Thefts On Rise In North Texas

Thieves steal the catalytic converters because they contain small amounts of precious metals including platinum – which is worth up to $1,290 an ounce; palladium – which is worth up to $2,300 an ounce; and rhodium – which can trade for up to $24,000 an ounce on the market.

Video Transcript

- Cars, trucks, vans, school buses, you name it. All of them being hit nowadays by thieves. And it can take less than a minute for a thief to slice off and steal a catalytic converter. Andrea Lucia shows us how quickly it can happen.

ANDREA LUCIA: Nazar Kozak was just making a quick stop at Target in Fort Worth.

NAZAR KOZAK: And by the time I came out, I didn't see anything different. I mean, when I started the van, I thought it was, like, a Camaro next to me.

ANDREA LUCIA: That noise--

NAZAR KOZAK: Yes, it's very loud.

ANDREA LUCIA: --he soon realized was coming from him.

NAZAR KOZAK: And I instantly knew that that was the catalytic converter.

ANDREA LUCIA: Someone had chopped it out from under his van, making it unbearably loud to drive.

NAZAR KOZAK: Where it hurts your ears.

ANDREA LUCIA: His dash cam captured the crime. You can see a Toyota Tundra parked close. Seconds later comes the sound of a saw slicing through metal.

NAZAR KOZAK: And then you can hear the converter drop.

ANDREA LUCIA: Thefts of catalytic converters have spiked nationwide. Arlington police reports they've had at least 253 cases so far this year. In the same period last year, they saw just five. This is actually a catalytic converter a thief came after. It normally sits right here on the underside of the car as part of the exhaust system. But you can see where they sliced right through it. The thefts are being fueled by a huge spike over the last year in the price of rhodium, a metal used to make the auto part.

CHRIS COOK: And it's a lucrative business from the standpoint of if you collect enough of them, you can make a couple hundred dollars when you go to, like, a scrap yard or some kind of, you know, dealer that deals with precious metals.

ANDREA LUCIA: Arlington police say they've now dedicated two detectives to handle just these thefts because for victims--

NAZAR KOZAK: That's where he cut it.

ANDREA LUCIA: --fixing the damage can be expensive.

NAZAR KOZAK: I mean, it just shows they're just so brazen and bold to do this.

ANDREA LUCIA: Andrea Lucia, CBS 11 News.