WORTHINGTON, Ohio — The City of Worthington, like many Ohio cities, is dealing with the crime of catalytic converter thefts.
A catalytic converter is part of your car's exhaust system and inside are precious metals that thieves sell to scrap yards.
On Monday, city council began hearing testimony on whether it should purchase what is called ALPR (Automated License Plate Readers) technology.
The city council is looking at buying 10 cameras and placing them along Huntley Road where police say they’ve recorded the most thefts. The cameras would cost around $30,000.
“We have seen a trend in an increase in catalytic converter thefts where certain businesses have fallen to be repeat victims of those thefts and the concern of those businesses is that we have the latest tool to put an end to their losses,” said Acting Police Chief Eric Grile.
Grile told 10TV last year, Worthington police responded to 12 catalytic converter thefts in one month.
Under the proposal before the city council, the cameras don't take video or capture images of occupants of cars. The cameras are designed to provide the make and model of the car and rear license plates.
Police say surveillance cameras are often grainy and don’t capture a good picture of a car leaving a crime scene. That’s where ALPR technology comes into play.
The police department says all the information taken by the cameras is encrypted and can’t be accessed by the public. Only law enforcement will have access except in cases where there is a missing and endangered person report.
Stopping catalytic converter thefts are a problem both at the state and federal level. Last year, Rep. Bob Young ( R-Green County) introduced House Bill 408, which would ban the sale of catalytic converters without proof of ownership.
The bill was referred to the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee, where it received two hearings.
U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to address and reduce the thefts of catalytic converters.
He, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), introduced the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act.
The legislation would ensure new vehicles’ catalytic converters are fitted with a traceable identification number and make the theft of the parts a criminal offense.