State leaders, car dealers discuss potential catalytic converter theft laws

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Discussions have happened about potential legislation designed to slow the thefts of catalytic converters in the Indiana. The amount of stolen converters has exploded, leaving personal car owners and dealers with damaged vehicles.

On Thursday afternoon, Indiana’s secretary of state led a meeting of the Motor Vehicle Advisory Board at the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly. The most talked about topic circled around the stolen catalytic converters across the state.

“It affects pretty much everybody, all of our constituents,” Rachael Ehlich told WANE 15.

Ehlich serves as the director of the Auto Services Division of Indiana’s secretary of state’s office. She caught up car dealers, including Tom Kelley, on the efforts happening on the state level and fielded questions from those in the room. That group has been 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 ‘that one there sitting in the salvage yard is my catalytic converter that was stolen,’ Ehlich explained. “So, that’s been one movement.”

There have also been discussions about establishing recordkeeping requirements for salvage yards.

“In part because that is a much easier case to make than trying to tie a catalytic converter to a specific vehicle,” Ehlich added. “It’s a much easier case for law enforcement or prosecutor to make that you didn’t do your duty to keep these records or check these IDs, so that’s one thing we’re looking at as regulators, if we can beef that up.”

Anything that would have be done at the legislative level could happen as early as 2022. The changes could go into effect in the spring or summer.

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

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