FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- We hear about them all the time - catalytic converter thefts.
It's a crime that takes just minutes, but leaves owners with thousands of dollars in damage.
Now, a new ordinance is set to be introduced at the Fresno City Council meeting Thursday.
If passed, it would create new consequences for thieves or recycling companies that accept the stolen items.
Council President Tyler Maxwell is sponsoring the measure.
Last month, Action News Creative Services Photographer Tim Sarquis woke up to a Ring camera notification no one wants to see.
A person near his car in the early morning hours.
"I tap it. It loads. By the time it loads, I see them pulling the catalytic converter out from under my car and them run off to their car," Sarquis said.
He became one of more than 3,600 people who had their catalytic converters stolen in the city of Fresno since 2021.
Sarquis says his vehicle, a 2005 Honda Accord, had 300,000 miles on it, so he didn't have full coverage auto insurance.
Because of that, insurance didn't cover the cost.
Neither did renters insurance, because nothing was stolen from inside the vehicle.
That left Sarquis and his family to foot the bill.
The part alone costs $1,200 to replace.
"This one small little act that these guys did. They don't realize how far back that put us financially and how much of a stress it was on a family of six," Sarquis said.
During Thursday's council meeting, a proposed ordinance will be introduced requiring a person who has a detached catalytic converter to show proof of valid ownership if law enforcement asks for it.
Proof must include written documents such as a bill of sale from the original owner with photographs, documents from a body shop showing the owner relinquished it to the business, or photos of the vehicle from it came from.
Without proof, the person could be charged with a misdemeanor, face a $1,000 fine and/or jail time.
In addition, any recycler accepting catalytic converters without proper documentation could lose their permit to operate.
At the state level, Assemblyman Jim Patterson authored a catalytic converter theft bill that went into effect this year.
It aims to make it easier to catch the crooks by creating a CHP task force to help investigators.
"Trying to identify the places where they are getting paid for it and stop the transaction so that it's no longer profitable," Patterson told Action News.
Thursday is just the first step in introducing the city ordinance.
It still needs to be discussed and voted on by the council, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks.
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