State leaders, car dealers discuss potential catalytic converter theft laws

Fort WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – There has been discussion in Indiana about possible legislation designed to slow the theft of catalytic converters. The amount of stolen converters has exploded, leaving private car owners and dealers with damaged vehicles.

Thursday afternoon, the Indiana Secretary of State led a meeting of the Automotive Advisory Board at General Motors’ Fort Wayne Assembly. The most talked-about topic around stolen catalytic converters across the state.

“It affects pretty much all of our components,” Rachel Ehlich told WANE 15.

Ehlich serves as the director of the Auto Services Division of the Office of the Secretary of State for Indiana. He caught up with car dealers, including Tom Kelly, on the efforts being made at the state level and questioned the people in the room. That group is tasked with regulating and licensing dealers, manufacturers and salvage yards.

“[Vehicle identification numbers] are a hard part to track down because they don’t have a VIN, so it’s hard to tie it back to the specific vehicle, so if your catalytic converter gets stolen, it’s hard to go back and say ‘he’s sitting there at the rescue yard’ Mine is the catalytic converter that was stolen,’ Ehlich explained. “So, it’s been a movement.”

There has also been discussion about establishing record keeping requirements for salvage yards.

“In part because it’s a much simpler matter than trying to tie the catalytic converter to a specific vehicle,” Ehlich said. “It’s a very easy matter for law enforcement or a prosecutor that you haven’t done your duty to keep these records or check these IDs, so that’s one thing we, as regulators, are looking at if we can increase it.”

Whatever would have been done at the legislative level can be done by 2022. Changes can take effect in spring or summer.

“Hopefully that means you can relax a bit, maybe not have to spend extra money on shields or these extra protection efforts some people are putting money into so they don’t have to spend $3,000 on a catalytic converter.” Ehlich said. “Hopefully that means they can relax a bit and know that their car will work in the morning.”

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