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'Something has got to be done': Catalytic converter thieves hit LifeCare Alliance for 5th time

The CEO of LifeCare Alliance said they have spent about $40,000 on replacing the devices.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — LifeCare Alliance, the nonprofit that provides meals to more than 7,500 people in central Ohio started its workday with a major problem. None of its trucks could leave the lot.

All five box trucks had their catalytic converters stolen overnight Sunday. 

"To steal them from Meals-On-Wheels people in central Ohio is unconscionable. I'm fuming," said Chuck Gehring President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance. 

It's not as if LifeCare Alliance isn't used to this. 

Gehring says this is the fifth time their trucks have been hit. 

The nonprofit added razor wire fencing around its parking lot. The thieves threw a blanket over the 8-foot-tall fence and scaled it anyway. 

They installed metal plating under their vans to deter the thieves. The thieves sawed through them. Then they added security cameras and the thefts haven't stopped. 

"We've spent close to $40,000 just on replacement catalytic converters," Gehring said.

Police told Gehring the crooks are likely selling the catalytic converters to out-of-state scrapers, but no one can say for sure. 

Surveillance cameras did capture the van the crooks used to flee the scene, but no license plate. 

Because the crooks wore hoodies it was impossible to see their faces. 

"Something has got to be done, and I hope these people go to prison for a long time," Gehring said.

Gehring did offer an alternative to those who choose a life of crime.

"I suggest you come here because I have jobs. I can hire you instead of working in the dark of night stealing converters. You can work for me honestly and get paid a probably do better," he said. 

State Representative Bob Young (R-Green) says he is working on legislation to address the issue. 

Young introduced House Bill 408 in September 2021 to make it harder for criminals to sell bundles of catalytic converters. He said the bill will close the scrap metal loophole by requiring dealers to prove ownership of every single catalytic converter they purchase. 

"If the scrap metallers are policing themselves they wouldn't be looking at additional regulations, " Rep. Young said. 

Young said the bill has received pushback from the recyclers who argue police aren't doing enough to check the logs of "bad actors" in the business and they also fear the legislation will end the sale of catalytic converters to scrappers across the state. 

Ohio ranks eighth in the nation when it comes to thefts of catalytic converters, according to a State Farm survey in 2021.

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