Thursday, 03 December 2020 18:22

Catalytic Converter Thefts Soar in Kansas; Police Push for Stronger Laws

Written by Greg Miller, KAKE News


Barney Lehnerr, owner of Transitions Group, Inc., in Wichita, KS, typically uses big loading trucks to deliver furniture rentals for various clients across the region.

Right now, those trucks are sitting quietly on his lot, because the catalytic converters were stolen.


“They scaled the fence down there by the auto body shop,” he said. “They cut the locks and stole three catalytic converters.”


It’s a familiar problem he’s heard about from plenty of other people. And the price tag to replace them is high---roughly $57,000.


“Our repair guy that we use has told us there’s such demand on converters because of the thefts,” he said. “They’re probably three weeks back-ordered.”


Catalytic converter thefts have increased dramatically and this year the reports are the highest they’ve been in a decade.


Wichita police released these figures for numbers of catalytic converter thefts:


  • 2016: 64 reports
  • 2017: 32 reports
  • 2018: 21 reports
  • 2019: 191 reports
  • 2020: 451 reports


“These economic times are tough for people,” said Sgt. Trevor McDonald. “I constantly have people calling me and telling me ‘I’ve lost a $1,200 catalytic converter.'"


Police say existing laws aren’t strong enough to properly arrest and prosecute these thefts. In 2018, KAKE News Investigates talked with WPD about...

...the need for a scrap metal database. They’d hoped it would make tracing sales and thefts faster. The problem? It hasn’t stopped thieves.


“There’s not only businesses not complying with the mandate, but there are 30-plus private individuals offering to buy catalytic converters,” said Deputy Chief Jose Salcido. “Because there’s a lot of money in it.”


Salcido urges the public to contact their lawmakers to push for stronger legislation against these thefts, before they find their vehicle victim.


"If people think they’re going to be talking to a judge, they’re less apt to not follow the rules,” he said.


We thank KAKE News for reprint permission.