Judd Matheny

Judd Matheny

A special meeting was held at CFC Recycling Monday, March 1, to discuss possible solutions to the rise in catalytic converter thefts.

Former state representative and General Manager of Southern Central Iron & Metal Judd Matheny held a meeting with members of the law enforcement community and CFC Recycling to discuss the recent rise in catalytic converter thefts and what can be done to slow down the thefts.

“We’re trying to organize the law enforcement community, along with the district attorney’s office, to bring attention to the theft of catalytic converters,” Matheny stated.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine to less toxic pollutants. It is typically found underneath the vehicle in the exhaust system in front of the muffler.

According to Matheny, the reason catalytic converters have become a favorite for the metal theft market is because of the metals platinum, palladium and rhodium. The value of these metals is in the thousands of dollars per ounce, so while the amounts of metal are small, the value of the converter for recycling is high.

 Because of this, the thefts of these converters from individual vehicles, dealerships and recyclers have increased nationwide. In the last few months, there have been reports of catalytic converter thefts in Tullahoma ranging from civilians, CFC Recycling and at The News.

Since replacing a catalytic converter is expensive and it is required by law for all cars made after 1974, Matheny hopes to work in conjunction with the Tullahoma police, Manchester police and Coffee County Sherriff’s office to create awareness of the widespread nature of the crime.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to the public that they need to somehow mark their catalytic converters, like engrave something on it in case it was stolen,” Matheny said. “We want to work towards a public service campaign, maybe with the car dealerships and oil change businesses who will offer to mark catalytic converters for their customers.”

Along with police officers from all three departments, Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin, District Attorney General Craig Northcott and state representative Rush Bricken were in attendance as well as CFC Recycling Operations Manager Marc Cardwell and Transportation Manager/Part-Owner Alex Rice.

Matheny also had Executive Vice President of Pull-A-Part Steve Levetan via Zoom to talk to the group about what is happening a national level as he is a chair of a national working group with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The meeting was an open discussion among everyone about the converter thefts, the current state laws about selling catalytic converters, what process is currently in place to track down stolen converters and what can be done in the future.

Overall, Matheny said he was happy with how the meeting with and said he felt it was very amicable.

“We all learned from each other because we’re all in the same boat and we shared some stories so I think that was very productive,” Matheny said.

Matheny said his next step is to work with law enforcement to create some PSAs to send out to all the local media, and find a way to approach car dealerships and repair shops to mark the catalytic converters so if it were stolen they can be tracked.

By state law, a buyer of a catalytic converter that is not attached to a motor vehicle must be a registered scrap metal dealer, a person who buys, exchanges or deals in scrap metal from a fixed location or otherwise. A buyer may claim that they are buying the converter as a “core” for rebuilding or resale.

According to Matheny, a scrap metal dealer is registered with the state department of commerce and insurance. The business has to have a sign on their business that states they are certified. The issue comes from when the converter is from a third party car, a car that isn’t owned by the seller or if the shop did not work on it.