Thefts of catalytic converters are on the rise, and Frisco is attempting to change that. The city has now made it illegal to possess a converter that has been sawed off.
Many know that a catalytic converter is a device in the exhaust system that contains a catalyst to convert pollutant gas into less harmful gasses. But many do not know (outside of mechanics, car aficionados and thieves) that catalytic converters are very expensive and can be worth a great deal of money.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Frisco police recorded 132 catalytic converters thefts in the first half of the year alone. The value of converters is especially high because they contain platinum palladium and rhodium Rhodium’s value has increased greatly over the years and currently sits at $14,300 per ounce. According to Carnewscast, the average catalytic converter contains around three to four grams, but large SUVs often contain up to eight.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that these types of thefts have increased dramatically since 2018. During that year only around 1,300 thefts were reported, but in 2020, the thefts jumped to 14,433. (This research does not account for unreported thefts.)
The new law set in place for Frisco makes it easier to catch those who are removing them illegally for profit because mechanics unbolt them using tools, while thieves almost always cut them off to save time. If you are caught with a sawed catalytic converter the fine is up to $500 and is considered a misdemeanor. But if you are convicted of buying, selling or stealing a catalytic converter it will be considered a felony.
In 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4110, which gives a felony conviction and six months to two years in prison for converter theft. Along with jail time, there’s also a fine of up to $10,000. Required documentation of sales is needed in order to buy or sell, but is difficult to enforce.
Other cities around North Texas may be implementing similar laws to Frisco to try to slow the wave of crime.