The theft of catalytic converters, the government-mandated anti-pollution control devices, were reported stolen last week from about a dozen late model Toyota 4-Runner Sport Utility Vehicles, because they sit high off the ground and can be easily removed. Jason Edwards is service manager at Sterling McCall Toyota in SW Houston. He says they been hit at their service department and collision center.
"We get visited after hours in the evening when they come in and they'll get under the trucks and SUVs, where there's plenty of ground clearance, and they could cut a catalytic converter off of a vehicle, probably in a minute or two, if they've got the right tool."
Edwards says the converters are hot for thieves, because of the precious metals they contain.
"The main one probably is platinum, and they get these off and then they find a scrap metal dealer that'll buy 'em. And then they'll break 'em down, and get the platinum out and then resell it."
Sgt David Hausam with the League City Police Department says they've been canvassing recycling centers and mechanic shops looking for leads. He adds DNA collected from one vehicle is being sent for analysis.
"The sample can be compared to either the data base of DNA samples that is generated by the Department of Corrections, or if we determine a suspect, it can also be compared to their DNA after a search warrant."
Sgt Hausam says some things vehicle owners can do to protect their property include parking in a well-lit area to putting it in the garage.
"Neighborhood diligence is probably going to be the biggest thing. People watching out for their neighbors. Obviously, if they have Toyota 4-Runners, this is definitely a targeted vehicle right now."