TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka city council unanimously approved a new ordinance Tuesday they hope will deter catalytic converter thefts.
Just in the last couple weeks of 2022, Topeka saw more than 20 catalytic converter thefts.
Tuesdays unanimous vote, which was taken just minutes after the issue was presented, shows just how much the city council wants to see this crime stopped in its tracks.
It’s a costly crime, and the thieves work so fast, it’s almost impossible to catch one in the act.
And even if police make an arrest, it’s extremely hard to prove what happened. Officers had to identify the actual vehicle from which a catalytic converter had been stolen. Now, it will be illegal to even possess a detached catalytic converter without the proper paperwork from the city.
Chief Bryan Wheeles says making it harder for criminals to resell what they’ve stolen will hopefully deter them from trying.
“It’s a very quick crime.” Wheeles said. “It happens very quick. So, this is going to let us work some things on the property crime back end. Take out the profit margin as to a motivating factor for why people steal these and then sell these. Because we will be able to on the back end who sold them and then trace it back because it is illegal to possess them.”
This ordinance may be new to Topeka, but not to Kansas. It’s based one the city of Wichita approved last year. Wheeles says while this is a big step forward for Topeka, he knows Wichita has seen success in it and hopes Topeka can follow.
Violators will receive a misdemeanor citation similar to what you’d get if you’re caught with open container in your car.