Innocent victims are becoming a crime of opportunity, simply as they’re going to the grocery store, or parking in a lot. Catalytic converter thefts are a hot crime, and Dallas police detectives have been working relentlessly on solving them. The governor even signing a new bill that will include harsher penalties.
There have been 800 catalytic converter theft calls this year alone, with 300 thefts in the last two months, Dallas police said. But officials say that’s not the actual number of catalytic converters stolen from vehicles.
Josh Tichelaar, a branch manager for wholesale florist Pikes Peak of Dallas, said he had catalytic converters stolen from his delivery vans.
Time is of the essence, and the perishable flowers need to be delivered as soon as possible for things like hospital visits, weddings or funerals.
“It’s frustrating, and there is not a whole lot you can do about it, and we have security,” said Tichelaar.
“The metals inside these catalytic converters are expensive right now, high value,” Dallas Police Department Detective Kevin Janse said.
In one instance, surveillance video shows the two suspects crystal clear, and seconds later, you see the woman carrying the catalytic converter in hand. Even though the video shows the plates to the car, that doesn't help catch the thieves, Janse said.
Suspects are now getting even smarter. At the floral shop, even though there was a clear description of the plates, the license plates belonged to a rental car. Now, police are asking the public to get specific descriptions of the suspects, like what they're wearing and what the getaway cars looked like.
Lawmakers are asking for harsher penalties. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4110, which would regulate metal recycling. This requires a person who is trying to sell a catalytic converter to a scrap yard to provide proof of where the metal came from.
“When this bill goes into effect, they’re going to be charged with felonies, the people who buy them will be charged with felonies," Janse said. “We have every detective we have available working on this because we have so many of these offenses," Janse said.
House Bill 4110 will go into effect Sept. 1.