Ohio Man Exploits Loophole in Law to Steal Over 1,100 Catalytic Converters From Unsuspecting Car Owners

ohio man catalytic


Catalytic converters are one of the most sought after car parts for thieves, in large part because of their high resale value.

In Ohio, the problem of catalytic converter thefts is a big one in large part because of a loophole in the involving their resale — one that lawmakers say they are now working on.

In the meantime, an Ohio man is being accused of one of the largest mass thefts of the devices in the state’s history, and it all was allowed to happen because of a technicality, authorities say.

Loophole in Ohio Law Allows For Massive Heist

catalytic converter theft ohio

These converters, found on the bottom of automobiles attached to the exhaust pipe with bolts, can fetch up to $1,500 in direct cash from scrapyards. 

They’re typically hard to sell because of scrutiny over thefts, but in Ohio, anyone who forms a business with the Secretary of State’s Office can sell as many catalytic converters as they want. 

One man named Tommy Cox of south Columbus is accused of more than 1,100 catalytic converter thefts. He was indicted last month on 32 felony counts of theft including receiving stolen property, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

An Ohio detective says he formed an illegal enterprise that was allowed to flourish by selling the converters.

“He’s one of the first ones that has found this loophole,” Gilbert, who conducted a nine-month investigation, said. “There’s no law that says a business can’t bring 50 catalytic converters in a day.”

People who sell the devices are not required by Ohio law to prove ownership.

“This does affect everybody because it drives up insurance rates and things of that nature, so in a sense, everybody is a victim,” Gilbert said.

Why Thieves Steal Catalytic Converters 

Thefts of the devices from vehicles have jumped as prices have risen for the precious metals they contain.

For victims who have them stolen, a replacement can easily cost $1,000 or more and make their vehicle undrivable in the meantime.

One alleged victim, Susan White, had all six catalytic converters sawed off of her van.

“They hit these a lot because they’re up high off the ground, they can get under really quick and get out,” she said.

She added that she never saw the damage from street level and knew something was wrong when she heard a loud roar.

Three others were charged in connection with the alleged theft ring, which also employed an Apple Airtag, a $30 tracking device he would place under their cars to wait for them to park in an open location before allegedly stealing the devices.

Twenty-four converters were found in Cox’s home along with guns and a credit-card making machine.

State Rep. Bob Young of the Green Party in Ohio says he is working on legislation to address the issue through House Bill 408 which will require dealers to prove ownership of every converter they purchase.

State Representative Bob Young (R-Green) says he is working on legislation to address the issue, according to WBNS-10 in Columbus.

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