Why Catalytic Converter Thefts Continue in Texas Despite Tough New Law

Surveillance videos show how easy the crime is

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The Texas legislature cracked down on catalytic converter thefts last session by passing tough new penalties and requiring sellers to produce proof of ownership and even fingerprints.

But now, police say, the thieves have found a way around the new law: They’re stealing the devices in Texas, accumulating them, and selling them in other states with weaker laws.

The manager of 17 RV storage lots across North Texas says his customers have been victimized dozens of times since the first of the year.

The car part has been a hot target for a few years now and now, criminals are finding a new loophole to acquire them. NBC 5's Scott Gordon has the latest

"I guess they look at it as a shopping mall of catalytic converters,” said John Hall, manager of A-Affordable Storage.

So far this year, thieves have stolen catalytic converters from 75 RVs on lots from Springtown to Royse City, Hall said.

Surveillance videos show how easy the crime is.

"They're blatant,” Hall said. “They'll just walk in here, they'll look at the camera. They'll have a mask on and walk right by. They don't care."

Once inside the lots, they're incredibly fast.

"They can roll underneath one, 30 seconds, roll back out, and leave,” Hall said.

On one lot alone, 17 different RVs were targeted at the same time.

It can cost several thousand dollars to replace the device, and that's not to mention a months-long wait for repairs.

In White Settlement, where as many as 10 catalytic converters are stolen every week, police say they caught one thief in the act recently.

He ran but officers caught him after a foot chase, White Settlement Police Chief Chris Cook said.

"Some of the metals (are worth) $26,000 an ounce,” Cook said. “So you can see why it's an expensive repair to make, number one. And number two, why it's such a common crime."

Back at the RV storage lot, Hall said everyone hopes something happens to reverse the trend.

"I get so mad,” he said. “I get so angry.

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