Thieves target 7 vehicles for catalytic converters at First Colony Mall in Sugar Land

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As many as seven vehicles were hit in one mall parking lot last weekend. (KTRK)

If you own a high-profile SUV, truck, or van, be warned that catalytic converter thefts are being reported, especially in Sugar Land.

The higher the vehicle is off the ground, the easier it is to steal the converters.

According to Sugar Land police, as many as seven vehicles were targeted by thieves in the parking lot of First Colony Mall last weekend.

On Wednesday, police said they were ready.

"They were on patrol and saw two men in the process of sawing off a converter from a Honda Odyssey minivan," said police spokesman Doug Adolph. "The officers tried to apprehend them. One we caught right away, and the other got away when he ran into the mall, but we have a good idea of who he is."

Cody Lutz, 22, is charged with felony theft. The minivan owner will have to rely on insurance to replace the damaged converter, or shell out a lot of money.

"They do it for the metal," said Mike Poutous of Poutous Auto Repair. "A few years ago, we saw several customers a month who had catalytic converters stolen," he said. "They can cut them off and be out from beneath the car in less than two minutes."

The stolen equipment isn't resold, but instead sold for scraps. Catalytic converters contain precious metals.

"Titanium, platinum, copper are some of the things that go into them," said Poutous.

Vehicles can still run without a converter "but they'll sound like you lost your muffler. You'll know something is wrong," he said.

Sugar Land police suspect Wednesday's attempted theft may be connected to the earlier incident at the First Colony Mall parking lot.

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