Solomon hopes to prevent his experience with stolen catalytic converter through legislation

Posted 4/13/22


Not one but two catalytic converters were stolen out of cars parked at Legal Motors on busy West Shore Road in Warwick during a clear 9:30 morning. 

The used car …

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Solomon hopes to prevent his experience with stolen catalytic converter through legislation



Not one but two catalytic converters were stolen out of cars parked at Legal Motors on busy West Shore Road in Warwick during a clear 9:30 morning. 

The used car dealership is owned by state Rep. Joseph Solomon Jr.’s family. Last week, he introduced legislation in hopes of keeping others from experiencing his situation. 

If approved, the legislation would require the purchaser of a used catalytic converter to obtain a copy of the registration of the vehicle from which it was removed and provide a copy to law enforcement.

“If they don’t have the registration they can’t accept it,” said Solomon 

Solomon isn’t alone. In Warwick, 113 thefts occurred between April 2021 through March 2022, according to the Police Department.

“This legislation will crack down on a crime that is extremely costly to car owners,” said Solomon. “The perpetrators of this crime get pennies on the dollar for these converters while the cost of replacing them can be well over $1,000, especially if the car is damaged while criminals attempt to remove the converters quickly. This legislation would put the burden of responsibility on those who actually accepting the catalytic converters to make sure they’re coming from legitimate sources. It will hold those who receive the converters to a high standard, so they exercise a little social responsibility when dealing with those selling converters.”

The issue of catalytic converters being stolen isn’t just a Warwick or state problem; it is also a national issue Solomon said during an interview last week. 

Since last April, there have been 125 reported theft incidents in Cranston with 441 individual converters stolen according to Col. Michael Winquist. 

Johnston Police Chief Joseph Razza in an email Tuesday said “as you know, these thefts are occurring throughout the State and all of New England as the main components that make up the converters, platinum, palladium and rhodium have seen a significant increase in their price over the last several years.” 

Razza said that since Jan. 1, 2021, the department had 41 reports of stolen catalytic converters.

“The thefts usually occur in the late evening to early morning hours and days of the weeks and months are random, with no real day of the week or month that is more prevalent than others,” said Razza. “Thefts are random and seen throughout the town in our residential and business districts and I have noticed a slight decline in thefts over the last few months.” 

Razza said the department recommends that people park their vehicles in a well lite area as well as install surveillance outside of their residence or business.

“There are other preventative measure that can be explored like having the converter welded to the vehicle’s frame and having the vehicle identification number engraved onto the converter,” said Razza. “These thefts, like all property crime offenses that occur in town are investigated to the fullest extent possible and we encourage the public to report any and all suspicious activity.  If any member of the public has information that may aide our investigations, they are encouraged to call us and they can offer the information confidentially.” 

Solomon said that when someone wakes up in the morning to take their children to school or gets out of work, starts up their car to an extremely loud noise because their catalytic converter is gone, it can be a devastating experience. 

According to the Universal Technical Institute, a catalytic converter uses a chamber called a catalyst to “change the harmful compounds from an engine’s emissions into safe gases, like steam. It works to split up the unsafe molecules in the gases that a car produces before they get released into the air.”

“Taking these converters really hurts the most vulnerable in our society — people going to work every day, single mothers living paycheck to paycheck who now have an additional huge expense they can’t afford,” said Solomon. 

Aside from Solomon’s legislation, there are two other bills that have been introduced in the General Assembly this year: one by Rep. John Lombardi, and the other by Rep. Edward Cardillo. 

Cardillo’s legislation would “make the possession of a catalytic converter by any person, other than a salvage yard, muffler shop or automobile or truck repair shop, presumptive evidence that the converter was stolen.”

Under the legislation theft of a converter would be as a misdemeanor if its value is less than $1,000, and a felony if higher. 

Lombardi’s legislation would make theft of a catalytic converter a felony and would require recycling service providers to maintain certain records relative to catalytic converters.

“We’re working together on trying to merge languages and come up with the best bill possible,” said Solomon.

Warwick Police Col. Bradford Connor related an incident where security cameras in a mall parking lot recorded a car pulling into a parking space and while the driver watched, the passenger rolled onto the pavement to the adjoining vehicle with a Sawsall and cut out the converter in a few minutes. Police were able to identify the thieves and make arrests, but as the suspects -- one with a record of stealing converters -- could only be charged with a misdemeanor. One of the suspects was soon thereafter caught stealing a converter again.  

(Johnston Sun Rise Editor Rory Schuler contributed to this report.)

Solomon, catalytic converters


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