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Legislation Aims To Curb Thefts Of Catalytic Converters; 'People Are Crying For Help'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's been a tough year for drivers in Chicago.

There have been carjackings and a big jump in catalytic converter thefts. Now there's possible help on the way to protect your car.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports from Humboldt Park and the hope is to discourage thieves who sell those converters for cash.

The area has been hit hard by those thefts. Under new proposed state legislation. If you sell a catalytic convertor, you'd have to show a drivers license or state ID. Buyers would also be on the hook.

"It was Toyota Highlander," said Katie Reynolds.

Car number one was from last year.

"Outside of our apartment. Middle of the night. Got in the car the next day. Turned it on. Sounded like it was about to explode," Reynolds said.

Car number two is from this year.

"I turned it on, heard the motorboat noise, turned to my husband. Guess what? Catalytic converter is gone."

Reynolds and her husband have two cars in Humboldt Park. Thieves took catalytic converters in both. For the Highlander, she had to spend $1,400 out of pocket.

"It hurt. Hurt a lot," Reynolds said.

That's in addition to the $500 deductible they spent to replace the catalytic converter in their Prius. Nearby, Gwen de Veer was hit too.

"I worked in restaurants. We're still all recovering. It was a big hit," de Veer said.

"People are crying for help."

All over Illinois, said State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-101st) people are outraged by the rash of catalytic converter thefts, sold to scrap metal operators and used car parts dealers for cash.

"So right now, if I have a catalytic converter, I can go into a company and sell it to the scrap yard and they don't ask any questions."

Ford has introduced a new Illinois law that would require catalytic converter sellers to shows buyers a drivers license or state ID. Buyers would then have to log that personal information.

"If you're going to have to identify who you are when you're selling this catalytic converter then you're going to think twice," Ford said.

The hope to dry up the market for the stolen parts. Similar laws have been passed in other states, including legislation in California in 2019. But State Farm Insurance said its customers claims for catalytic converter thefts jumped a 175% in California between June of 2020 and June of this year.

Still, any legislation in Illinois would be welcomed by two-time victim Katie Reynolds.

"I hope it helps. I hope that I don't have to experience it and my neighbors don't have to experience this anymore."

Representative Ford hopes the Illinois General Assembly will pass his legislation during the fall veto session which begins in a week.

Buyers of catalytic converters who don't keep a log of the sellers would face fines of up to $5,000.

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