BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — A traffic stop on County Road 87 in Elberta, behind the wheel, Justin Nelson, 42, from Foley. In his truck are two catalytic converters and for the first time, a new Alabama law came into play in Baldwin County.

“The law is pretty extensive and pretty specific what you have to have to possess that catalytic converter and if you don’t you go to jail,” said Captain Clint Cadenhead with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.

Justin Joseph Nelson, 42, Foley charged with possession of used, detached catalytic converters

In a matter of seconds, catalytic converters can be cut from a vehicle costing the owners thousands of dollars to replace while thieves make a quick buck for their trouble. Last year it happened at Cockrell’s Body Shop in Robertsdale.

“They hit nine vehicles, got six converters for the approximate value of about $19,000,” said Cadenhead.

At the time, owner Mike Hawthorne was practically begging for something to be done.

“We need to be able to go back, call these recycle yards and say yes, a person actually brought in eight yesterday,” said Hawthorne. “Here’s his paperwork, here’s his address, here’s his name at least something like that would have a decent effect.”

“In the days past we have contacted people with catalytic converters, it’s hard to prove where it came from and anything like that,” said Cadenhead.

The new law requires among other things: a copy of the seller’s valid business license, the name of the person who removed the converter, the make and model of the vehicle, the vehicle identification number, a copy of the seller’s driver’s license and a copy of the vehicle title.

If you are caught and arrested for possession of a used or detached converter the first offense is a misdemeanor, a second arrest is a felony and law enforcement can seize your vehicle too.

“With this new law it will give us a little bit of teeth where we can go ahead and make the arrest without proving where exactly it came from,” said Cadenhead.

Nelson’s recent arrest isn’t his only legal trouble. He is also wanted in Escambia County, Florida, not for stealing catalytic converters but allegedly stealing the whole car.

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