DFW AIRPORT — Though he drives a diesel pickup truck, Dave Covart knew right away his Dodge didn't sound right when he started it in the Terminal E garage at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport last week.
"I could hear with all my windows up and my radio on. You could hear it vibrating ... something was wrong," he said.
Covart had parked at the airport for a short weekend trip, but when he returned, he discovered someone had crawled underneath his truck and stolen the catalytic converter from his exhaust system.
"I had to get it fixed," he said. "So I asked him 'How much?' I was thinking 'This sized truck, maybe a couple grand. That's going to ding me,' but he came back and said it would be $5,000.'"
Covart is the seventh catalytic converter theft victim at D/FW Airport in the last two months.
Thieves are taking tailgates, too; ten of them have been reported stolen since January, which is already more than last year, police said.
A traveler from Rockwall had the tailgate taken from his 2013 Ford F-250. Replacing it, he told News 8, would cost at least $3,500.
The thieves may be driving vans since they are large enough to conceal the purloined auto parts without being seen by surveillance cameras along the roadways. Victims said that's what officers have told them.
But since garages aren't equipped with cameras, airport police have increased patrols. They're asking employees to keep an eye out, and are counting on tips from Crime Stoppers, betting someone saw something.
"That's what we're hoping for — that they'll actually call Crime Stoppers and give us a tip,” said D/FW Department of Public Safety Assistant Chief Lonnie Freeman. “If you see someone with a number of tailgates or a number of catalytic converters in an area around their house or around their business, there's a good possibility they didn't buy all of those."
But Freeman said the stolen auto parts aren't isolated to the airport; cities are seeing the growing trend, too.
Next time he goes to the airport, Covart said it'll likely be cheaper to take a taxi rather than his truck.
DFW Airport said tipsters can remain anonymous. Detectives don’t want callers' names... just their information, Freeman said.
Contact Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817-469-8477 or visit 469tips.com.