OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Catalytic converter theft has become a growing problem across the country and right here in the metro.
In 2021, more than 1,100 catalytic converters were reported stolen in Omaha. The trend hadn't slowed down in 2022, as around 150 were being stolen from residents' vehicles per month.
To combat the issue the Omaha Police Department and Omaha City Council are taking action with a new ordinance.
Starting Wednesday, it will be required to have a regulated metals property permit, or have proof that the catalytic converter is yours, to be in possession of one.
To get a permit you must be at least 18 years old, and you must pay the annual $10 fee. You will not be able to get a permit if you have been convicted of a theft-related offense in the last five years and will lose the permit if you get convicted of one after obtaining it.
OPD says this will help them crackdown on thieves who they had pulled over in the past with one or multiple of them in their possession, and often the tools to cut off the catalytic converters, but had no way to prove they had been stolen or who the victim was.
"We were unable to backtrack that and say who the victim is in the crime and move forward with the prosecution,” OPD Lt. Kyle Steffen said. “So, what this ordinance does is make it illegal to possess a catalytic converter if they do not have the required permit and/or documentation that they own those catalytic converters or what vehicle they came from."
If you are found in possession without a permit or proof it belongs to you, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and may face up to a $500 fine and/or six months in jail.
There will also be requirements for scrappers to keep detailed records of who is coming in with the property. All catalytic converters must be paid for by check that will be sent to the address of the seller through US parcel mail.
OPD believes these changes will be a big help in slowing down these thefts that are costing victims hundreds of dollars, and they're going all out to catch them.
"We do have a detective that is assigned strategically to the catalytic converter theft problem that is getting really well acquainted with the thieves who are doing this on a continual basis,” Steffen said. “We thank the city council and city legal teams for working with us in partnership to help us combat catalytic converter thefts."
You can apply for a regulated metals property permit at the Omaha Police Department Headquarters.