New law aids in prosecution of catalytic converter thieves

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Catalytic converter thefts have become such a problem in the Memphis area that a state representative from Memphis was contacted by law enforcement to try and do something about it.

That help may come with a bill.

“You have to put the car in the shop for a few days to get it fixed when it could be out in the road sold,” said the owner of River City Motors on Thomas.

Video shot Sunday from across the street of the business shows two men stealing a catalytic converter off of a car at the business. Memphis police put it on their Facebook page, hoping to catch the suspects. The owner of River City says it can cost up to $1,500 to replace the stolen part.

“You go in the hole that much more,” he said.

In March, master mechanic Gerald Stewart was shot and killed at his business when he caught thieves stealing catalytic converters off of customers’ vehicles.

Tennessee State Representative John Gillespie says the thefts have become such a problem that he was contacted by law enforcement.

“It was brought to my attention by the Tennessee Police Chiefs Association and the sheriffs association,” he said.

It ended with a bill that is designed to at least curtail the thefts.

The bill requires businesses that buy or sell used car parts to keep permanent records of the sales involving catalytic converters and other used auto parts and register with local police. Those records must identify and provide an address and a driver’s license of the buyer and seller and keep those records for three years. Violators face a class A misdemeanor and a fine.

Gillespie points out the thefts affect a lot of different people and groups.

“It’s not just high-end pickup trucks. It’s church vans. It’s organizations and nonprofits that rely on transportation and do a service for the community,” he said.

The bill goes into effect July 1. Law enforcement is hoping it is effective.

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