The Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force and the Fort Worth Police Department are conducting an investigation the illegal purchase of catalytic converters.
Catalytic converter thefts have been driving property crime rates for the past several months throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, mirroring a nationwide theft trend, officials said.
According to officials, law enforcement agencies within Tarrant and Parker Counties have seen increases in unlicensed buyers advertising catalytic converters on social media platforms.
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Officials said Texas requires a license issued by the Department of Public Safety for the legal purchase of regulated metals.
Catalytic converters are devices used to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles by introducing a catalyst. The catalyst, typically made from platinum, palladium, or rhodium, is introduced to speed up the process of removing toxins from the vehicle's emissions.
Catalytic converter thefts have increased due to the rise in value of these precious metals, officials said.
According to officials, metal recycling entities are regulated under the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1956. These laws make it illegal to purchase regulated metals without a license, requires the business to have a physical location with posted hours, and requires businesses to collect proof of ownership and complete identification of each seller of regulated metals.
The required information must be collected and submitted electronically to the state, and the recycling business must also maintain records of each transaction, officials said.
According to officials, the month-long Strike Force began following leads regarding individuals buying and selling stolen converters.
The officers used both education and enforcement depending on the severity of the offense, and charges ranged from fines to incarceration, officials said.
Officials said the Strike Force made over 30 arrests, recovered 69 catalytic converters, seized cash, and recovered stolen vehicles.