Catalytic converter stolen from KWTX employee’s truck in broad daylight; dealerships struggle to keep up with demand

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 9:01 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Waco police reports about six-to-eight catalytic converter thefts a week since July, and one of those weekly catalytic converter thefts happened to a KWTX employee while he was working at the station last Thursday.

The dealership told him the $5,000 part would take up to two months to arrive.

KWTX Engineer Brady Bass parks his Toyota Tundra right outside the station every morning along a fence. Last Thursday around 4 p.m., a coworker alerted Bass and told him he saw a car zooming away from the Tundra. The car did not have a front license plate.

“What I’ve learned since this happened, they just have a battery operated saw,” Bass said. “They can lay up under the truck and make two cuts, and the catalytic converter falls out. They drag it over in their car and take off.”

He had to get the pickup towed to the dealership because they recommended not to drive without the catalytic converter, which reduces pollutants released from vehicles into the air.

“It would have been very loud because it’s basically straight pipes right off the engine,” he said.

Replacing a catalytic converter costs around $5,000 for his truck. Luckily, his insurance will cover the replacement, mostly.

The dealership, however, told him the part would take about eight to 12 weeks to come in because of the increased demand for converters.

“Because there’s so many catalytic converters being stolen off Toyota trucks, the supplies are not keeping up with demand,” Bass said. “I’m without a truck for two months.”

Waco police say Mitsubishi Outlanders and Toyota Tundras, the truck that Bass drives, are most targeted for their converters because of the type of metal they are made of.

Even though Bass drives one of the targeted cars, he was not concerned about his converter getting stolen, especially in the middle of the day.

“I never thought it would happen to me, of course, because I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before,” Bass said. “Plus, we’re not in an area that’s industrialized. There are apartments, like, right behind where I park my truck, and the hospital is right here. There’s a lot of people in and out of the parking lot all the time as far as people that work here, so I just never thought there was any problem here.”

However, in hindsight, Bass does wish he would have taken some precautionary measures.

“I had heard about this happening, and I was told there was a plate that you could get mounted underneath to protect the catalytic converter somewhat,” Bass said. “It really didn’t stop them from taking it, but it would slow them down. That would have cost me $650, and I should have done that. I probably would have come out ahead.”

Some dealerships we contacted, like Jeff Hunter Toyota, are so busy replacing converters that they are offering specials on these plates or shields that Bass mentioned.

Waco PD also recommends parking in well-lit areas, installing cameras around your home where you park your car, or etching your car’s vin number in the converter.

Bass reported the theft to Waco PD Thursday, but, because of the missing license plate, he is not hopeful the suspects will be found.