Local police and politicians back proposed law could put the brakes on catalytic converter theft

Local News

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) – A Fowler man is facing charges after police in Liberty say he was involved in a recent catalytic converter theft. It’s a crime that appears to be happening more often, and now lawmakers in Columbus are discussing a way to deter it.

Norman Macias Jr. is free after posting bond. He’s due back in court next week after pleading not guilty to charges of theft, possessing criminal tools, and criminal damaging.

Investigators say he drove two other people to steal a catalytic converter from a parked car at Belmont Confections on October 3. The act was all caught on surveillance cameras.

“Broad daylight, 10 o’clock in the morning they pulled up a van. They slipped underneath the car and in four or five minutes had a catalytic converter and nobody was the wiser,” said Liberty Police Chief Toby Meloro.

Police are searching for the two others involved, but this type of crime has seen a spike in recent months. Meloro said the thieves are getting big money, especially on particular types of vehicles.

Back in June, catalytic converters were cut from the entire bus fleet at Person Centered Services Active Day’s Girard facility. And just last month five converters were stolen from transport vans owned by Turning Point Residential/No Limits Alternative Center in Mahoning County.

Rep. Mike O’Brien says lawmakers are currently discussing legislation known as House Bill 408, which they believe would help prevent this type of crime.

“It will make it a crime to sell catalytic converters to a scrap yard without proof of ownership,” said Rep. Mike O’Brien, D-64th District. “It’s just another tool in the toolbox for police departments to really combat this ongoing theft of catalytic converters.”

The bill has been referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee. O’Brien expects it will make its way to the House floor and receive support from both houses of the Ohio General Assembly.

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