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Wednesday, 13 October 2021 20:55

Increase in Catalytic Converter Theft Leads to New Legislation in Wisconsin

Written by Diane Bezucha, Wisconsin Public Radio
A heat shield lies on the ground after thieves stole the catalytic converter from Madison resident Paul Schechter's truck in August.  A heat shield lies on the ground after thieves stole the catalytic converter from Madison resident Paul Schechter's truck in August.  Photo courtesy of Paul Schechter

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One day in August, Paul Schechter went to move his Toyota Tacoma for alternate-side parking in Madison. When he started the ignition, it sounded like a jet engine roaring.

He thought his muffler was shot. But when he moved his truck, he noticed a dirty rag and scrap metal on the street where it had been parked.

 

He sent photos to his mechanic who quickly confirmed his catalytic converter had been stolen.

 

The mechanic replaced it for $1,000 with an aftermarket part, which he said would be less desirable for thieves. Schechter even wrote on it with a permanent marker, "This is an aftermarket, please don't steal."

 

But a week and a half later, it was stolen again.

 

Over the past six months, stories of increased catalytic converter thefts have popped up across Wisconsin---from Milwaukee and Madison to Green Bay and Chippewa Falls. 

 

But a new state law could help deter would-be thieves.

 

Assembly Bill 415, and the identical Senate Bill 408, would add catalytic converters to a list of "proprietary articles" whose sales are regulated by law---things like copper and aluminum conductors and wires, railroad ties, metal grave markers, manhole covers and metal beer kegs.

 

Under the new law, anyone selling a catalytic converter to a scrap dealer would need to be 18 years of age and would be required to show personal identification and proof of lawful ownership. Scrap dealers would be required to maintain sales records and when proof of ownership isn't provided, refuse the sale and report the incident to law enforcement within one business day.

 

If a scrap dealer fails to comply with the new law, they could face a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail. For a second offense, the penalty jumps to $10,000 and up to nine months in jail.

 

The bill was authored and introduced by...


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