Indiana bill could increase penalty of catalytic converter crimes to a felony

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VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Catalytic converter theft has become a way for thieves to make some quick cash.

Large sized catalytic converter scrap value can be worth $100 to $150 dollars. The smaller pre-cats or the smaller converters may only be worth $10, $20, $30.

Law enforcement and recycle centers, like Mervis Recycling are working together to crack down on illegal cat converter sales.

“Everything we put in a computer from a purchase the Terre Haute Police department or the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department or even Indiana State police can go into Leads Online and look at the transaction,” said Tom Haley, general manager of Mervis Recycling.

Leads Online is an investigation system that helps police keep track of items sold to these centers.

At Mervis, people must show ID, a car title and sometimes proof of purchase of a new cat converter in order to sell an old one. But, it doesn’t always happen that way with all recycling centers.

“It’s an ordinance in the county that you have to do that and also in the city. [There] are places that are not even a legitimate business that they go and take that for scrap. That’s the issue that we’re facing,” said Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse.

Right now, the penalty for cat converter theft and illegitimate purchase of them is a misdemeanor. A bill making its way through the Indiana Statehouse would make it a level six felony.

The bill could soon make it to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk.

Officials believe this penalty would deter thieves from taking catalytic converters in the future.

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