St. Joseph County Prosecutor pushing for tougher laws to curb catalytic converter thefts

(Photo supplied/South Bend Police)

Law enforcement agencies in St. Joseph County are fed up with the number of catalytic converter thefts they have been seeing in the last two months.

In a press conference on Wednesday, South Bend police chief Scott Ruszkowski said that the number of catalytic converters that they have been called about being stolen has gotten out of control.

RELATED: Catalytic converter thefts in South Bend, St. Joseph County on the rise

“To say there has been a rash is an understatement,” he said. “We’ve had over 170 in the county this year alone, county combined.”

Thieves are hitting car dealerships or parked cars on the street at night. They go underneath people’s cars and simply cut out the catalytic converter and then likely take it to someone who will buy the precious metals inside, which usually include platinum and palladium.

“We believe there are multiple groups of individuals out there who are participating in this activity,” said St. Joseph County sheriff William Redman.

Though police officers and sheriff’s deputies are trying their best to find the perps responsible for the 800-percent increase in catalytic converter thefts, St. Joseph County prosecutor Ken Cotter is appealing to state lawmakers to make the penalty for stealing a catalytic converter more severe.

“This is not something that is just a blip. It is a huge impact,” said Cotter, who wants to not only punish thieves but the people who are buying catalytic converters from said thieves by making all of the aforementioned activities a felony.

“The (proposed) changed 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 the stealing because they are buying it on the cheap and then they are making a lot of money because of that.”

Right now, stealing a catalytic converter is a misdemeanor. Cotter said making it a felony will hopefully squeeze both those potential thieves and buyers to think twice before carrying out a theft.

Cotter is working with state lawmakers, like State Senator Mike Bohacek, who represents LaPorte, St. Joseph, and Starke Counties, to amend state statute to do just that.

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Chuck February 8, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Do you really think by making stealing a catalytic converter a felony that’s going to stop the thief … here’s a better idea .. find out who’s buying them .. than that will stop it …!

Sam Byer February 10, 2021 at 4:48 pm

That makes too much sense Chuck. Making it a felony will make it stop as much as making it against the law to sell heroin, methamphetamine, child molesting, and every other violation that has filled our prisons at taxpayer expense. As long as they are at it, they should make it against the law to be in a gang. No more gangs– problem solved. Politicians are so smart aren’t they? Don’t dare ask what I would do. I think we should send them home with our reps in congress so they could retrain them first hand. After two weeks , if that long, the penalties would most likely change. OR we can wait until the Socialists have us driving electric cars without catalytic converters. Maybe we should just hug a thief – it’s their parents fault – or yours 🙂


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