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Despite local arrests, Muncie and Ball State see more catalytic converter thefts

Terra Konieczny
Newslink Indiana
Last year, some cars outside Adam's Auto Repair in Muncie were stripped of catalytic converters while waiting to be worked on.

By Terra Konieczny and Stephanie Wiechmann
Newslink Indiana and IPR News

Despite arresting several people for catalytic converter thefts last month in Muncie, students at Ball State University are reporting their converters have been stolen recently.

Ball State’s University Police Department says the targeted cars are parking in large overflow lots, where students may not regularly visit their vehicles. Chief Jim Duckham says police have been stepping up patrols and watching parking lot cameras more closely. He suggests to protect your vehicle, don’t isolate it.

“So, if there’s other cars – for instance, a car on your right and on your left, parking in the center. Because they have to get underneath your vehicle to get the catalytic converter.”

In late March, Muncie police arrested three people who the agency says stole at least one vehicle to then steal and sell catalytic converters.

Adam Brown, owner of Adam’s Auto Repair, says cars outside his shop waiting for repairs were targeted by thieves last year. And he’s seeing more clients come in with missing converters, a repair some struggle to afford.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, replacement and labor for a stolen catalytic converter can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.

Brown says scrapyards that buy the parts should be helping the problem.

“These people are taking 15, 20 converters at a time to a scrapyard. The scrapyard, at that point, should just be calling the cops and saying, ‘Hey, come get these guys.’”

A new law recently signed by Governor Eric Holcomb limits the number of salvage recyclers that can buy or sell converters, and limits the daily payments made to people looking to sell.

This story is part of a collaboration with Newslink Indiana, a student media organization at Ball State University.