SUGAR LAND, Texas: A gun-wielding catalytic converter theft suspect was shot dead by police after he brandished a gun during a brief pursuit Thursday.
The incident began when police responded to a call of catalytic converter theft at about 10:05 p.m. Thursday at Imperial Lofts on Stadium Drive in Sugar Land, located southwest of Houston, Fox 26 reported.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found a suspicious vehicle with several occupants.
ABC 13 reported that the suspects then led police on a short chase before stopping the car and running into a field.
“One of our officers had our drone up in the air and tracked the suspect as he ran through the field. Several officers were in the field,” Assistant Chief James Davis said, as reported by ABC 13. “As a perimeter was set up, the suspect produced a weapon and the officer returned fire, shooting the suspect.”
Life Flight took the suspect to Memorial Hermann, where he was pronounced dead. Three others who were in the suspected car escaped. No officers were injured.
“Police said they recovered the suspect’s gun at the scene. Investigators said it is unclear if the suspect actually fired the weapon or not — that is all part of the investigation,” ABC 13 reported. “Sugar Land police said they are working with the Texas Rangers and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office on the investigation.”
Risking Your Life For Car Parts?
Catalytic converter theft has become a common occurrence in and around Houston.
“In the first three months of 2022, the Houston Police Department reported 3,188 catalytic converter thefts, a 123 percent increase from the previous year,” according to a press release from the City of Houston on Wednesday. The press release also announced a new city ordinance designed to combat the skyrocketing amount of catalytic converter thefts.
According to a blog post from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, this reflects an upward nationwide trend in catalytic converter thefts in recent years.
“In 2019, it was 3,389 reported thefts. In 2020, reported catalytic converter thefts jumped massively to 14,433, with December leading the way with 2,347 thefts, or roughly 16 percent of the yearly total – in just one month,” the NICB wrote.
The Allstate Insurance Company wrote that thieves are targeting catalytic converters due to the current market value of the precious metals found in them, the relative ease of removing one, and the inability to track them.
Thieves can then turn around and sell the catalytic converters to recyclers for typically anywhere from $50 to $250 per converter, according to NICB.
As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices,” the NICB wrote. “There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals.”
The automobile owners whose cars were targeted for their catalytic converters face hefty repair bills. The Highway Loss Data Institute wrote that the cost of replacing a catalytic converter an upwards of $3,000.
Imperial Lofts resident Maurice Caraway was one of at least three vehicle owners who were victims of theft on Thursday. He told ABC 13 that he woke up to a note on his car to call Sugar Land Police.
“It didn’t sound like that before,” Caraway told ABC 13 as he started his SUV. “This is going to be an expensive and costly repair.”
While we are thankful that law enforcement performed their duty, incidents like this involving well-armed thieves targeting personal property are getting emboldened in the era of ‘defund the police’ and ‘catch and release’ prosecuting attorneys.
That emboldened criminal class is likely a large part of why millions of Americans bought a gun for the first time in the last 24 months!