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Thieves across East Texas, the state of Texas and the U.S. aren't necessarily interested in stealing whole cars any longer, just valuable parts from them. Thieves know that a catalytic converter contains precious metals that have become extremely valuable recently. Since 1975, all vehicles are required to have a catalytic converter on them to pass inspection and be roadworthy. Thanks to an increase in thefts of this part, many East Texas vehicle owners are left with their vehicles just sitting in the driveway without one.

It's shocking to see just how quickly this part can be stolen from your car or truck rendering it undrivable until you get it replaced. ABC13 in Houston has a video from one of their viewers showing just how quick these thieves made off with the catalytic converter from his SUV.

Right around 20 seconds. That's all it took for thieves to make off with the converter from his SUV.

I was blown away when I saw the video how quickly it was done. - Colman Ryan

The three precious metals that are in a catalytic converter are platinum, palladium and rhodium. Sgt. Tracy Hicks with the Houston Police Department Auto Crimes Task Force, tells ABC13 that at the height of the summer last year, rhodium was $30,000 an ounce compared to gold at $2600 an ounce.

Just last week here in East Texas, KETK reported that authorities in Mt. Pleasant and Pittsburg located and confiscated 28 stolen catalytic converters from an unnamed shop in Mt. Pleasant.

What is the purpose of a catalytic converter?

The main job is to burn off hydrocarbons and other toxic ingredients from your car's exhaust.

Can you protect the catalytic converter on your vehicle from being stolen?

There are ways to deter the thieves from stealing yours, but any determined thief will do anything necessary to get what they want. There are wire cages that fit around the converter, special pipe shielding to protect them from being cut along with several other options.

It's expensive to replace a stolen catalytic converter.

An average catalytic converter can cost anywhere between $1000 to $3000 to replace and some vehicles may have as many as three or four of them throughout the vehicle's exhaust system. In addition, these parts are not currently readily available for many makes and models. Some customers are having to wait up to three months to get a replacement. That's time not being able to drive their car, that they're still making payments and insurance payments on.

The best advice would be to park your vehicle in a garage if at all possible at night or close to your house as you can and not in the street and when in a parking lot, park it in an extremely well-lit visible place.

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