Catalytic converter thefts continue to be an issue in Central Texas

In Cedar Park on Monday, Nest video shared with FOX 7 by Donna Abitabilo Wallerstein captured the moment two people stole her catalytic converter from the Toyota Tacoma parked in the driveway. In total, it took about 30 seconds or less.

Marcus Havins, who lives outside of Killeen, discovered on Monday that his catalytic converter had been stolen over the weekend while parked at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

"At first, I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I thought I had a major issue with my car, my motor. But then it kind of hit me with that sound."

His truck was able to be repaired by Tuesday, but it cost him over $700.

"Because it’s been such an ongoing thing [the shop] had it in stock," he said.

Both Havins and Wallerstein own Toyota Tacomas. 

In 2021, APD sounded the alarm on catalytic converter thefts, reporting a 2,000% increase in thefts from 2019 to 2020.

In May of this year, ABIA announced there were four reports of catalytic converter thefts within 24 hours at airport parking lots.

On Tuesday, the Cedar Park Police Department announced they had arrested two men in the early morning hours. Six catalytic converters, plus the tools needed to steal them, were found in their possession.

At Don’s Automotive on S. 1st, shop manager Jimmy Preston is used to fielding complaints.

"We get the calls all the time, and they're like, ‘My car sounds like a go-kart or a Nascar race car," said Preston.

They often come from Tacoma or Prius owners who quickly realize their catalytic converter has been stolen, targeted for the valuable metals inside that can be turned for a profit.

The catalytic converter is a costly but necessary component. Preston called it the "Brita filter for the exhaust."

"It can cost people thousands," he said. "The bottom line is stop stealing the catalytic converters."

Preston said installing a "cat shield" could deter a thief. Car owners can also etch their vehicle’s VIN into the catalytic converter in the event it is stolen.

According to an ABIA spokesperson, parking garages are monitored by security as well as CCTV security cameras. Passengers that see anything suspicious or who have had their catalytic converter stolen should call the airport at (512) 530-2242 and file a police report with APD.