Auto part theft isn’t a new crime trend. But in recent years, one part has been the target of so many thefts that the incidents have even made national headlines.
Catalytic converters help neutralize the harmful components of an automobile’s smoke before it exits the tailpipe. Typically located at the underside of most vehicles, catalytic converters reduce the toxic content of exhaust smoke through a chemical reaction with the precious metals inside the parts. These metals include palladium, platinum and rhodium, which are rarer and even more expensive than gold.
But those same precious metals make catalytic converters such popular targets for theft. Theft of the parts only takes minutes with simple tools, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of incidents across America has soared. According to news reports, catalytic converter thefts in Indiana have jumped 1578.85% since 2019.
While it’s true that catalytic converters contain expensive metals, stealing them is a crime. Anyone caught illegally taking these parts can face penalties that far outweigh the value of the components.
Penalties for component part theft
Under Indiana law, if a person is charged with stealing a catalytic converter, a court can convict them of a Level 6 felony. The conviction carries a prison sentence of up to two and a half years and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
If the person charged has a prior unrelated conviction for theft of a motor vehicle or another auto component part (which doesn’t necessarily have to be another catalytic converter), they potentially face a Level 5 felony on conviction. Penalties include up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Whether it’s a vehicle’s catalytic converter, transmission, engine or any other key component, it’s against the law to steal them. Those facing charges shouldn’t underestimate what a conviction spells for them and consider their legal options.