New tactic hoped to prevent catalytic converter thefts

The Houston Police Department has kicked off a program they hope will reduce catalytic converter thefts in the city.

The cops will partner with IM3 Oil & Lube on Emancipation Avenue to paint the catalytic converters of oil change customers and etch the vehicles' VINs into them.

Photo: Fargo PD

Sgt. Tracy Hicks with HPD's Auto Theft Crime Task Force suggests some vehicle owners may also be able do it themselves at home. He recommends etching the last eight numbers of the vehicle's VIN and using bright-colored, high-temperature spray paint. Etching devices can cost less than $50, a far cry from the thousands of dollars needed to replace a converter.

Last year, according to HPD, catalytic converter thefts in Houston topped 7,800, and more than 3,000 were reported in the first three months of 2022.

Last month, off-duty Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Almendarez was shot to death in a grocery store parking lot as he confronted a group of robbers trying to remove the converter from his own vehicle.

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