Houston-area scrap metal company believes theft prevention should be the focus of city’s new ordinance on catalytic converters

HOUSTON – C&D Scrap Metal has been recycling metals for more than four decades.

Dennis Laviage, the owner of the business, said the city’s new ordinance on catalytic converters is what needs to be scrapped.

“It’s not the scrap dealer,” he said. “There are probably bad scrap dealers buying this stuff, but at the end of the day, they have to stop it before it happens.”

Laviage founded C&D Scrap Metal 43 years ago.

“We process between 3,000 and 5,000 tons per month of scrap metal,” Laviage said.

He said buying it is a 15-step process.

“If you come in with a pound of anything else we must obtain a copy of your driver’s license,” he explained. “Two signatures, along with two fingerprints, the make, the model, the color of the vehicle. The year and the license plate number.”

These are just the highlights, he said, the city of Houston’s new ordinance on catalytic converters is redundant to rules and regulations that already exist.

“It doesn’t mean anything to anybody,” Laviage said.

The code requires recyclers to collect year, make, model and VIN, documentation of ownership, and any other information required by the Texas Occupations Code.

A person with a cut catalytic converter has to have the correct documentation or they could face a fine.

A new rule is the metal recycler is responsible for taking pictures of all sides of the catalytic converter and any serial or VIN numbers. Then they are required to upload to the police department’s online investigation system.

“The paint burns off and engraving into that metal is very difficult, and that’s not going to stop it either,” he said.

Laviage believes theft prevention should be the focus.

“You want to protect your converters. You want to protect your parking lots, protect your restaurants, protect your neighborhood,” he said. “Until you put a stop to where it’s beginning, you’re not ever going to stop this.”

Laviage also says the city should have spoken with recyclers before amending the ordinance.

KPRC2 reached out to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office about Laviage’s concerns and they sent the following statement:

“The catalytic converter ordinance was discussed thoroughly with business leaders and other stakeholders before city council approved the measure.

Mayor Turner believes this is a One Safe Houston initiative and tool to decrease crime in Houston and prevent theft from innocent vehicle owners who are left to pay expensive repair bills. The ordinance also will require anyone in possession of a cut catalytic converter to show proof of ownership.

Mayor Turner, Police Chief Finner and their representatives welcome meaningful conversation on how we can work together to prevent the illegal theft and resale of catalytic converters and enhance safe in our community.”

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