“If it’s stolen, keep on rollin”: Recycling business explains process of buying catalytic converters

Published: Aug. 15, 2021 at 5:37 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - For over a year, Region 8 News has reported on hundreds of catalytic converter thefts and the impact it leaves on those in the community. But, now we turn our attention to businesses that purchase catalytic converters.

“If it’s stolen...keep on rollin” that’s what you will read on a sign while driving down Distributor Drive in Jonesboro.

The green words sit just below the words “pays top dollar for your catalytic converters.” The sign is an advertisement for Ellis Core Recycling.

“99.99 percent converters are not stolen. It’s that point one percent that makes the whole industry look bad,” owner Cricket Ellis said.

Ellis says they purchase a lot of their converters from people who are on their way to the junkyard to get their car scrapped. But, unless you catch a theft red-handed, how would a scrap yard know a catalytic converter has been stolen?

“It’s impossible to tell. Much like a pawn shop. It’s impossible to tell,” Ellis said.

However, at Ellis Core Recycling, the process of buying doesn’t start by handing the converter over. Sellers have several steps to complete including taking photos, a person giving a digital thumbprint, and also their signature. The information is then uploaded into the state’s system.

This process is now one that all scrap yards have to follow after Act 1083 passed in April.

“Many people may not know what it is, but let me tell you what it is, it’s something that’s going to cost you a heck of a lot of money, if someone steals it from you,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “This is not a misdemeanor where you’re going to get a slap on the wrist, this is going to be a felony where you’re going to get some jail time for stealing this, this is not your property, do not steal it.’

Putting a stop to the crime has also been a priority for her office. She says before her office launched the Metal Theft Protection Program in 2015, they would hear many scrap dealers had cameras that were broken or they didn’t have good information or pictures that they took of the items being sold to them.

Rutledge says it’s vital that law enforcement and scrap dealers know the requirements of the law.

“We don’t want to put anyone out of business, but if you are a bad business, we will put you out of business, and we want to put criminals behind bars and hold them accountable,” Rutledge said.

It is something Cricket Ellis also agrees, standing strongly by the phrase “if it’s stolen, keep on rollin.”

“They are setting their selves up for failure because, with us, they’re going to jail. We like it that way because we think everyone that should be in jail, needs to be in jail because they are giving the whole industry a bad name,” Ellis said.

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