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Catalytic converter thefts put ambulance company out of business

One Ohio lawmaker is looking to tighten the state's scrap law to deter these types of thefts.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio's scrap law is supposed to deter thieves from selling bundles of catalytic converters and from scrap dealers from buying them yet the crimes continue to happen.

But the law wasn't enough to deter the thieves that hit Nurses Heart Paramedics of Columbus. The company says it was hit multiple times.

"The thieves came up with one of those rolling backboards like they use in a shop and a blow torch and they literally scooted from one ambulance to the other and they cut five catalytic converters and they were out in 11 minutes," says Brian Hathaway, Operations Manager for Nurses Heart Paramedics.

"To have each of those repaired is anywhere from $4,000 to about $5,500 per vehicle," he said.

He says since August of last year, the companies' ambulances had 13 catalytic converters stolen from its Southeast Columbus parking lot. The company parks its truck in a parking lot because it doesn't have a garage.

Hathaway says the bill to replace the catalytic converters was more than $60,000. He says the company doesn't have the money to replace them again.

"Our insurance paid for the first instance of theft. The second and third time came straight out of our pocket," he said.

The ambulance company operates a non-emergency transport service for nursing home patients and others to get to their doctors' visits.

"Our most important folks are those who need dialysis three times a week," he said.

But the thefts put an end to that.

"We are now out of business until we can get the catalytic converters put back in," he said.

Patients are now being cared for by another company through a mutual aid agreement. The damage also impacted jobs.

"Our entire staff right now is myself and the owner everyone else has been let go," he said.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals which make them valuable to sell. Ohio ranks eighth in the nation for catalytic converter thefts.

Under Ohio law, all scrap metal dealers are "required to have a photograph of the seller, Driver's License or State ID, the license plate of the vehicle transporting the material, an itemized list of the materials and, in some cases, a photograph of the item(s) being sold."

Additionally, all transactions are supposed to be entered into a searchable database and reported to the state.

Scrap dealers can face a felony if they don't comply. 

On Wednesday State Representative Bob Young will introduce HB 408 which aims at tightening Ohio's scrap metal laws.

Last week, 10TV reported on a local catalytic theft ring that involved a Columbus man who faces 32 felony counts involving an alleged theft ring that spanned five central Ohio counties.

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