FORT WORTH, Texas – Police in Austin recently warned that they’re seeing a rise in catalytic converter thefts around the city, noting that 584 took place there in 2020 compared to just 27 in 2019.

It turns out it’s a nationwide spike in theft, one that is plaguing the Fort Worth area as well.

Police say the converters contain precious metals like palladium and rhodium, which have increased in value over recent years.

In response, the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force, along with Fort Worth police, has been cracking down on the theft and illegal purchase of those coveted converters.

The task force found that unlicensed buyers were advertising on social media platforms. Texas requires a special license for the legal purchase of regulated metals.

After developing leads, the Strike Force made more than 30 arrests for illegal catalytic converter sales and purchases. Sixty-nine converters and several stolen vehicles were recovered. Cash was seized. Charges range from fines to incarceration.

Police say the five most targeted vehicles included the Toyota Prius, the Honda Element, Ford’s Econoline, the Chevy Express, and Toyota Tundras.

Most of the thefts happened near the vehicle owner’s home.

Officers say there are things you can do to prevent the thefts on your vehicle, including:

  • Park in areas that are heavily trafficked and well lit when feasible
  • If you have a garage with sufficient space, park inside and be mindful about closing the garage door
  • Weld the catalytic converter to the vehicle’s frame to make it more difficult to steal
  • Engrave the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter to make it easier to identify the owner
  • Calibrate your car alarm to sound if there is vibration detected