DENISON, Texas (KTEN) — The Denison City Council has approved a new ordinance to discourage the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles.

Nationally, the number of the pollution control devices reported stolen soared from 3,300 to more than 14,000 between 2019 and 2020.

"I think we are the first here in this region to actually enact an ordinance,"said Denison police Chief Mike Gudgel. "This is something that we've been working on for years as far as law enforcement in the State of Texas."

There were 57 catalytic converters reported stolen in Denison in 2021. Last year, that number dropped to 38.

Any vehicle parked outside can become a target.

"Business parking lots, in neighborhoods, on the side of the road... it's just an epidemic that we're seeing,  and they're so quick and easily removed," Gudgel said.

Denison's new ordinance prohibits anyone or any entity from removing a catalytic converter without the proper paperwork.

"We work with all the local law enforcement; we I feel like, do a really good job of getting the information we need," said Jeff Hill, owner of 69 Metal Recycling. "Hopefully the people will have that same information when bringing a converter, so, we'll just have to see."

So what makes catalytic converters such an attractive target for thieves?

"It's the precious metals that's inside them," Gudgel explained. "Rhodium, palladium... these things cost a lot of money, and they can get a lot of money for these catalytic converters. So this is just another method for us to be able to combat that, and hopefully we see some good success from it."

A Texas law enacted in 2021 tightened the rules for recyclers, making it a felony to buy or sell a stolen unit.

"Some days we buy none, some days we buy 10; mainly we get the ones off of the cars we buy," said Hill. "We buy off impound yards, we buy them from towing companies, different things, individuals. Those cars we still have to report to the State of Texas with the VIN numbers and what type of converter it was."