he economic pains caused by the pandemic have been visible throughout society throughout the past two years. Food insecurity and housing insecurity are ongoing issues of concern, all of which …
The economic pains caused by the pandemic have been visible throughout society throughout the past two years. Food insecurity and housing insecurity are ongoing issues of concern, all of which has been exacerbated by rising inflation and higher cost of commodities, such as gas, due in part to the conflict in Ukraine.
All of these factors, along with the thousands who lost their employment and have been unable to gain it back in an equitable manner since the lockdowns two years ago began, have resulted in many individuals becoming desperate for money however they can get it. And unfortunately, in such positions, many may turn to criminal acts to get by.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the theft of catalytic converters from unoccupied vehicles has become increasingly common throughout the past couple years. In terms of crimes of opportunity, they are remarkably easy to pull off. In terms of money made versus the effort required to obtain them, they are a low-risk, high-reward criminal endeavor.
We have no doubt that police will play a role in being more vigilant about these thefts, but we can do more. While thieves of catalytic converters must be apprehended, a bill introduced by Rep. Solomon Jr. can make strides to prevent the easy sale of these stolen parts that make them such an attractive item of theft.
Rep. Solomon’s bill would add a layer of red tape to ensure that the purchasers of catalytic converters must first secure a copy of the vehicle’s registration that the converter came from. In practice, this bill would hopefully prevent stolen catalytic converters from being easily offloaded to garages and parts shops throughout the state.
Of course, no legislation is perfect. Nothing in the bill would prevent an unscrupulous car parts dealer from purchasing a black market catalytic converter without acquiring the proper paperwork, and then harvesting the precious metals (rhodium, palladium and platinum) that lie within them for a quick profit themselves. However, the hope would be that by making this practice illegal, it would make them think twice so as to not risk their own skin following someone else’s brazen crime.
But we must also not lose sight of the fact that the best means of preventing crime is to alleviate people from the poverty that incentivizes them to engage in such reckless behavior in the first place. We have a long way to go in order to achieve that goal, but hopefully supporting Rep. Solomon’s bill and passing it through the State House will curb this troubling trend of thefts — and save many hardworking Rhode Islanders the nightmare of finding their vehicle ransacked and in need of expensive repair.
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