CT Lawmakers Consider Regional Approach to Combat Catalytic Converter Thefts

State lawmakers said thieves are crossing state lines to sell stolen catalytic converters.

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Connecticut lawmakers are once again looking for solutions to stop catalytic converter thefts across the state.

Nearly one year after passing legislation aimed at cracking down on the sale of the stolen devices, lawmakers are considering a new bill that would establish a regional approach with other states.

The proposed legislation would authorize agreements with neighboring states to establish a regional approach to combating the thefts.

Senator Cathy Osten (D- Sprague) said it would build off of the legislation passed last year. She said that the new law helped to stop thieves from selling stolen catalytic converters in Connecticut, but thieves are instead going to neighboring states to sell the devices.

“We want to work with the other states to come up with the same laws that we have," Osten said. “That will stop people from crossing the boarders to sell them.”

The proposed legislation would also establish a task force to evaluate laws already on the books in Connecticut surrounding catalytic converter thefts.

People testified in support and opposition of the bill during a public hearing Thursday. Some people voiced concern over part of the bill that would require new and used car dealers to mark the catalytic converters of motor vehicles they sell that are valued at more than $10,000.

The Public Safety and Security Committee will eventually schedule a vote that determines if the bill makes it out of the committee.

It comes as communities across the state continue to see a consistent number of thefts.

In Norwich, police report an average of one to two catalytic converter thefts per month. They happen everywhere from private neighborhoods to parking lots. In January, thieves stole three catalytic converters from cars in a shopping center parking lot during the day.

"They are getting more brazen," said Lt. John Perry. "There is no rhyme or reason and I think that’s why it’s so difficult for us to catch these thieves who are out there doing this to our community.”

Perry said that recent legislation did help the situation, but the department would like to see more done. Police are encouraging neighbors to be on the lookout for their fellow neighbors. Home surveillance cameras have also been helpful as police investigate.

It is not just Norwich. Communities across the state have reported instances of theft. Some thieves have targeted school bus companies directly.

"We’ve lost 70 to 80 of them and that is a lot of buses impacted. Particularly when it happens overnight, we find out at six in the morning. That can be very disruptive for children," said Bryony Chamberlain, vice president of school bus at DATTCO.  “Any help we can get would be much appreciated.”

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