Latest rash of catalytic converter thefts targets healthcare workers, worshippers

" This is happening a lot in our community right now and it’s time for a stop.”
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down, in fact, it appears that catalytic converter thefts are rising across the Lonestar state and that includes the Brazos Valley.

According to AAA, there has been a 5000% increase in catalytic converter claims since 2019. AAA Texas says catalytic converter thefts started increasing in 2020 as the pandemic led to higher unemployment, more people working from home, and lots of high-riding vehicles such as trucks and SUVs left idle.

Here locally, the City of College Station alone reported 195 catalytic converter thefts since the start of the year, 34 of which occurred from July 1 to July 29.

But now, thieves are stooping to new lows to get their hands on a catalytic converter and the precious metals they contain. Many are used to thieves targeting homes, apartment complexes, and small businesses but the latest round of thefts this past weekend targeted healthcare workers and visitors to a College Station hospital and Walker County church.

Locations like hospitals and churches are becoming more popular with thieves because they know people will be inside for a generous amount of time and be preoccupied.

Brittany Jones a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in College Station had completed a 12-hour shift Thursday in the hospital’s NICU when she discovered that her catalytic converter had been stolen.

“I come out and my car sounds like there’s a motorcycle inside of it. Turned it off to make sure I still had my muffler and that’s when a coworker came out and told me I was the fourth Toyota stolen that evening,” said Jones.

She says it’s a disappointing situation to be in, not just for her but for everyone involved.

“How dare they come to us as public servants and target us?” Jones said. “They got a doctor, several nurses and then last night another one was stolen off a dad’s [vehicle] that just had a newborn baby.”

Frank Olivares is a youth pastor at the Huntsville Nazarene Church, businessman, and former reserve deputy with Walker County Sheriff’s Office. He says his truck was targeted only 7 minutes before the worship service ended Sunday.

“When I start my vehicle I thought it was a monster truck concert,” said Olivares. “These guys are professionals they’re in and out in less than five minutes with both catalytic converters. They park right next to your vehicle they open up their door very slightly, the guy just crawls out and goes under the other vehicle.”

Olivares says it’s time to put an end to these types of crimes.

“I tell people all the time the enemy does not take a vacation, the enemy does not rest. When you’re moving forward in God’s path somethings bound to happen,” said Olivares. " This is happening a lot in our community right now and it’s time for a stop. People need to wake up and step up and say you know what we really need to step up our game on watching each other here in our community.”

The College Station Police Department confirmed the thefts at St. Joseph saying there have been four confirmed catalytic converter thefts at the hospital since last week. CSPD went on to say that three adults, and one juvenile, suspect have been arrested in College Station in July for catalytic converter theft activity but did not confirm if the arrest was related to the thefts at the hospital.

To make matters worse the converter theft will disrupt Jones’s life for at least six months.

“It’s awful. Toyota is so backed up that it’s gonna take six to nine months for a new catalytic converter to be installed so my car will be sitting on a lot for that long,” said Jones.

St. Joseph Health released a statement on the thefts below.

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