HONOLULU (KHON2) — Catalytic converter thieves are getting bolder and going for more volume by targeting car dealerships. The problem has the auto industry calling for tougher laws.

There are alarms and security cameras in the lot of Aloha Kia Leeward; however, thieves were able to get in and out within just a matter of a few minutes — way before the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officers arrived.

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Thieves stole three catalytic converters early morning on Monday, Nov. 8, at the dealership in Waipahu by cutting holes in two wire fences. Management said thieves have broken in four times in the past few months.

“Hopefully we can catch these people because it’s been going on for months now. They are very brave, they’re cutting fences to get in, but hopefully will be able to catch them and put a stop to this,” said Nicole Wallace, executive secretary for the dealership owner.

Wallace said the company adds new security measures after every break-in, but thieves still find a way to get around them.

“As a local business, we really want this to come to an end because it affects us as a business and the customers. But we are doing everything possible to make sure that this doesn’t happen anymore.”

d Nicole Wallace, executive secretary for Aloha Kia Leeward

A spokesman for the industry said Hawaii dealerships are not the only ones dealing with this type of problem. Thieves are going after them all across the country.

“It’s on everybody’s radar screen. It seems to be happening continuously. A lot of dealers have put in a lot more security,” said Dave Rolf, executive director of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.

Rolf stated the industry has been lobbying the state legislature to pass tougher laws to prevent the thefts. Among them, requiring proof of ownership from anyone who sells catalytic converters.

“There would be ways of identifying the seller with receipts and notarized declarations of where the catalytic converter came from. There was an awful lot of effort to try and improve the tracking of those,” explained Rolf.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Karl Rhoads also said lawmakers came close to passing stronger laws last session, and he feels confident that it will be done in 2022.

“I don’t believe there’s any opposition to it at all; so I think it’s quite likely that a bill on this will pass to make the law stronger,” said Rhoads.