St. Joe Co. Law Enforcement And State Lawmakers Work To Slow Increase In Catalytic Converter Theft
St. Joseph County law enforcement officials say they’ve seen a significant increase in catalytic converter thefts over the last two months. But, a piece of legislation in the Indiana General Assembly may help to stop it.
South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said “to say there’s been a rash” of catalytic converter thefts in the county “would be an understatement.”
Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31, 85 reports were made to the SBPD alone. Ruszkowski said that’s compared to just 10 reports at this time last year. Police say catalytic converters contain small amounts of precious metals that have spiked in price, possibly driving the increase in thefts.
A bill in the State Senate would amend the Indiana criminal code to increase the penalty for stealing a converter. But more importantly, said County Prosecutor Ken Cotter, it would create charges for people who buy stolen converters – hopefully deterring would-be thieves.
“The changes in the law are not really focused on the individuals doing the stealing," Cotter said. "The big change is the focus on the folks who are taking advantage of these individuals who are stealing.”
The bill still needs to pass the State House, but senators say it could be on the Governor’s desk by mid-March.
Until then, law enforcement officials asked citizens to report any information on converter thefts – including possible suspects – to their local police departments.
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