I-Team 8

Hoosiers line up for free paint jobs to curb thefts of catalytic converters

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of drivers on Wednesday got free paint jobs for their catalytic converters, the car attachment that filters out toxins and keeps cars running smoothly.

The reason? Combating the rising thefts on the south side of Indianapolis.

Dan Lake, one of the many drivers who showed up to Take 5 Oil Change on South East Street to have his catalytic converter spray-painted, said that criminals can take the devices “in less than 30 seconds, I think, and so you can’t really drive your car anywhere. It’s a mess.”

Take 5 Oil Change and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department teamed up to spray-paint converters in bright, high-temperature paint and add a label with the vehicle’s license plate number. IMPD says it hopes by making more catalytic converters more distinguishable that it will deter others from stealing them.

It’s “in hopes that our local scrap yards and some not-so-local will recognize that they’ve probably been removed illegally and they should not either buy them or they should inquire from us before they do so,” said IMPD Capt. Steven Ferklic. “Hopefully, the criminal that’s preying on maybe your neighborhood or a particular parking lot where you might be will look at your vehicle, find out that it’s been marked, and move on.”

Lake says he’s had his stolen before and paid the hefty price of $900. He says that price tag was on the lower end.

“Mine was stolen last September, and it was the first time it ever happened. I parked in the same place for 26 years. And it’s expensive.” 

Lake says he was excited for this free event and hopes it will make a big impact in the community.

“You have someone come in and invade your space or invade your home or your car, you feel a little bit, you know, I don’t want to say ‘violated’ but, you know, it’s just something that’s wrong,” he said.

On March 7, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill making it illegal for nonlicensed scrap dealers to sell catalytic converters. Stealing a catalytic converter in Indiana is a felony.

Statement

“I have heard from many constituents in District 21 regarding their concerns about stolen catalytic converters. That is why I was proud to support the ‘Paint and Protect’ program, which was organized today by IMPD Southeast District and Take 5 Oil Change. Residents had the opportunity to get their vehicle’s license plate number etched onto their converter free of charge. There was a great turnout, I would like to thank IMPD for their efforts to crack down on catalytic converter thefts. This program is a step in the right direction, and I hope we can continue to have additional events like this across the city.”

Frank Mascari, a Democrat on the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council