Bill requiring paper trail for resale of catalytic converters could reduce theft

Hartford Current

We already knew the catalytic converter situation in Connecticut was out of control.

And then things got worse when Farmington officer James O’Donnell was critically injured in September when he was hit by a fleeing stolen vehicle while driving to the scene of a robbery presumed catalytic converter. O’Donnell’s has already had two surgeries and was expecting a third.

Somehow a Windsor Locks detective avoided injury in a separate incident this year in which a suspected catalytic converter thief drove his car and only missed it by a few centimeters, police said. In Wallingford this year, police warned people to avoid confronting thieves after one allegedly fired a gun during a catalytic converter theft.

Police have reported thefts in many cities, for example when thieves at Windsor Locks stole 26 converters from a plumbing and heating contractor and in Glastonbury, where thefts rose to 56 in less than three full months in 2022, with 14 in total in 2020, according to police data.

The thefts have occurred across the state, causing damage to numerous vehicles — including school buses — and leading to very expensive repairs for motorists, lawmakers say.

Converters can be sawn off vehicles very quickly and are valuable to thieves as they contain precious metals and are easily resold.

But now a revised bill has passed the state legislature that would crack down on such thefts by tightening the rules for those who may receive or sell catalytic converters.

The bill would prohibit auto recyclers from receiving a catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle. As Chris Keating of The Courant reported: The move is designed to stop criminals from cutting converters out of cars and taking them to junkyards and recyclers in exchange for money.

The idea is, frankly, brilliant: if few buy the spared product, why would anyone bother stealing it from someone else?

According to the report of the Legislative Research Office of the Legislative Assembly on the bill, with respect to scrap metal processors, second-hand dealers and owners and operators of scrap yards, it would also establish “requirements record keeping and other requirements to receive a catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle.” In addition, the ENT report notes that it would prohibit “anyone other than a vehicle recycler from engine or motor vehicle repair shop from selling more than one independent converter to a scrap processor, scrap dealer or scrap owner or operator in one day”.

These new record-keeping requirements would be expanded and even require certain transactions to include “a clear photograph or video of the seller, the seller’s driver’s license or ID card, and the converter,” according to the ENT report.

As Keating reported, the 10-page bill would also require check transactions, not cash, and secondhand dealers would have to file weekly reports with state police on their transactions in a closely monitored system.

“A lot of it is paperwork and identity processing,” said Sen. Dan Champagne, a former police sergeant. “Papers showing where catalytic converters come from.”

And would anyone want to steal a catalytic converter if they have to have their picture taken when they try to sell it? We think not.

We believe the requirements have a good chance of reducing the illegal market for these converters.

Reducing the illegal market would mean much more safety for motorists and hopefully less risk for law enforcement. Governor Ned Lamont is expected to sign this bill.

About Debra D. Johnson

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