Rise in catalytic converter thefts continue, police work on solutions

Crime

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Both across the country and right here in Wichita, law enforcement officials are dealing with a rise in catalytic converter thefts. 

At this time in 2018, Wichita Police Department reports only one theft of a catalytic converter. But at this time in 2019, there were eight thefts. In 2020, there were 38. This year, the count is already at 213.

Those thefts haven’t gone unnoticed. The Radio Shop Co-owner, Joad Donnelly, said his car shop that installs alarms has been busy with installation calls. The Wichita Police department said their phone lines have been flooded with theft calls. “The phone calls that we’ve been getting for alarms in the last six months have increased drastically,” said Donnelly. 

There are precious metals inside catalytic converters and the price for those metals has increased. Donnelly said he is noticing more people coming in after their converter was stolen, damaged, or replaced, and need to have an alarm installed. “Whether there’s an actual theft or even just a theft attempt, that alarm system will, you’ll be able to tell that there was a theft attempt to specifically targeting the catalytic converter,” said Donnelly. 

Donnelly is not the only one helping Kansans fight back from thefts. Police are working with the Attorney General to adjust a city ordinance. “Basically, a scrap yard now only has the scrap license, so under this thinking, they would be required to have the precious metal license because people don’t go and sell it as catalytic converters for the scrap value,” said Deputy Chief Jose Salcido. “That would be like five dollars, they are selling it because of the precious metal contents.”

Salcido said it would help track the sales of catalytic converters and ban third-party sales. His department is waiting to hear back from the Attorney General about how to move forward, but the department said it’s another step towards fixing the problem. 

Salcido said in the meantime, he urges drivers to park their cars in gated areas or get an alarm system to avoid theft. 

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