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Johnson County Sheriff's Office works to make catalytic converter sales less desirable

'We’re doing this for the citizens of Johnson County'
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 20, 2023

We’ve been telling you about crooks targeting the catalytic converters on your vehicle for years.

WRTV looked into who’s buying them and what local agencies and lawmakers are doing to try and put an end to it.

Recycling shops across Central Indiana can buy catalytic converters, but according to WRTV sources, a lot of them are going to Edinburgh.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is making it their mission to make illegal sales a lot harder.

“It’s been going on for as long as I remember,” Maj. Damien Katt said.

Maj. Katt is the investigations commander for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. He said stealing a catalytic converter can take a matter of minutes for someone who knows what they’re doing.

“That's not just a cheap quick fix. That could end up being over $1,000,” Katt said.

WRTV spoke to a Johnson County resident who didn’t want to be identified, but said his catalytic converter was stolen while inside Dave and Busters. He told me it happened in the middle of the day in a busy parking lot.

“Somebody pulls up next to a car. You'll see a door open, somebody slides out, rolls under a car and within a less than a minute, they can be jumping back in a car and taking off,” Katt said.

Katt said the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is doing their best to protect Johnson County residents from theft like this.

“All of the agencies experience the same frustration when you can't help someone,” Katt said.

They’ve helped with new state legislation, performed audits and even worked undercover to see who’s buying these stolen cores.

“There are recycling businesses that purchase these cores,” Katt said. “We discovered that there are people at some of these businesses that are knowingly purchasing these stolen catalytic converters.”

New legislation went into effect last July making it more difficult for these place to illegally buy catalytic converters and less desirable for criminals to steal them.

As of July 1, 2022, a business can only pay $25 in cash for a catalytic converter, the rest has to be in the form of a check.

A seller can only sell one catalytic converter a day. The seller has to have a signed affidavit from a police agency stating the seller lawfully owns the catalytic converter.

Katt said last summer they informed the purchasers of the new changes.

“Then we waited a certain amount of time and did another audit to see if there was compliance and we saw more compliance but not everybody was complying,” Katt said.

After that, an undercover operation.

“We sent guys in, in an attempt to see who was complying. Were our guys turned away because they didn't have the proper paperwork or were there workarounds? We learned there were workarounds,” Katt said.

He said they’re working now to put a stop to these work arounds.

“We’re doing this for the citizens of Johnson County,” Katt said.