CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in the Coastal Bend.
The latest victims are from the Rancho Banquete subdivision in rural Robstown.
On Tuesday morning, Nueces County Pct. 5 deputies responded to a call of a burglary in progress on Rachel Lane, where chief deputy Marcus Martinez said the victim's neighbor called 911 after hearing a saw, and spotting a person dragging an object from a parked vehicle near their home.
"Deputies were advised that an unidentified suspect was possibly casing the area and possibly stealing catalytic converters," he said.
At the scene, deputies found 26-year-old Juan De Los Santos Jr.
He was arrested and transported to the Nueces County Jail on burglary of vehicle and theft of precious metals charges. Nueces County Pct. 5 officials say they have received more than a dozen reports of stolen catalytic converters so far this year.
"It is believed that De Los Santos has been involved in some of these burglaries of thefts in the past," he said.
Catalytic converters are valuable because of the metals inside, and it only takes thieves a few minutes to saw one off a vehicle.
Experts say criminals can get a few hundred dollars for a stolen device.
Mechanic Alonso Aguilar said it can cost victims thousands to replace them.
"Most vehicles have two to four catalytic converters," Aguilar said. "Depending on the vehicle some are $100, some are $800 depending on the type of vehicle that you have."
To prevent becoming a victim of catalytic converter theft, authorities recommend that you always park in well-lit areas when possible.
- Keep your car in the garage with the door closed and park near a building entrance.
- Security devices are also being sold to secure the converter in place.
- Video surveillance around your home is also useful.
- Engraving your VIN number onto your catalytic converter is also suggested to make it easier to identify it in case it gets stolen.
- Report suspicious activity and avoid confronting a suspected thief.