Has it happened to you?

There’s been a recent rash of catalytic converter thefts reported by car and truck owners across New Jersey, and one lawmaker is now pushing a plan to stop this from happening.

A measure, S249 sponsored by state Sen. Nellie Pou, D-Passaic, would require operators of scrap metal businesses to only purchase used catalytic converters from individuals who can to provide the VIN of the vehicle the part was taken from, and either the title or registration, a receipt from a repair or a bill of sale.

Thefts in the cities, suburbs and rural areas

"It is a problem that is occurring not in any one community by itself or exclusive, it’s occurring all over the state of New Jersey," she said

Pou said there are no safeguards to discourage crooks from stealing a catalytic converter.

"Unfortunately, once it’s stolen, it’s very difficult to trace. This legislation will make it difficult for them to resell."

Pou said that in the course of a day, she heard about three people in her neighborhood having the catalytic converters stolen from their cars.

"Can you just imagine if we’re talking about what is occurring within 24 hours all over the state in different parts, it is a serious problem."

Catalytic converters are being reported stolen from vehicles parked on the street, in garages and at parking lots outside malls and long-term airport parking lots.

Police crime scene
Brian Jackson

They can be stolen in minutes

The devices, which help to reduce harmful emissions, contain valuable metals like platinum and palladium. They can usually be removed from a vehicle within minutes and they may be sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars.

She said her measure may not stop all catalytic converter thefts but "it would certainly prevent anyone from being able to just go to any kind of scrap metal location and attempt to sell that particular converter."

The legislation has been approved by the State Senate and is now being considered in the Assembly.

To minimize the chance of having your vehicle’s catalytic converter stolen authorities recommend you:

• Consider installing an anti-theft shield over the device

• Consider installing a motion sensor or security video camera in your car

• Have your license plate number etched on it

• Park in well-lit areas

• Call police and your insurance company immediately if it’s stolen

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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