GREENWOOD, Ind. – Employees at a popular Greenwood restaurant hope a new state law will soon apply to a pair of thieves who stole from a server while she was working a double shift.
Security video outside Campbell’s Highland Grille shows two males pulling into the back employee parking lot and stealing the catalytic converter off one of the cars parked there. The crime only took a few minutes and happened around 2:45 p.m. Sunday while Jessica Rhinehart was working inside the restaurant. Nobody knew the theft had happened until Rhinehart left to go home.
“Got in my car, started it, and it sounded like a motorcycle,” Rhinehart said.
Like many restaurant employees, Rhinehart has been working double shifts and long hours to get herself back on track after a year and a half of pandemic downturn. Now she has a new financial burden.
“They might not have had any money so that’s why they took something from me, but I don’t necessarily have it either,” she said. “I work really hard for the things I have, so it’s frustrating.”
“It’s shocking and kind of scary at the same time,” said Campbell’s Highland Grille co-owner, Steve Campbell. “You kind of expect those things to happen at night when no one’s looking.”
“It’s just heartbreaking and our heart goes out to Jessica and we want to try to help her out if we can,” Campbell continued.
It’s possible the two thieves caught on video didn’t realize they were committing a felony offense Sunday afternoon. The persistent problem of catalytic converter theft prompted stiffer penalties that just took effect about a month ago.
“There’s a huge after market for these things, for the metal within the catalytic converters,” said Republican State Senator, Aaron Freeman.
Freeman worked with State Senator Jack Sandlin and several sheriffs in authoring a bill to attach felony charges to crimes involving catalytic converters. Senate Bill 167, which took effect July 1, says stealing catalytic converters is a Level 6 felony, rather than an A misdemeanor. The same holds for the sale and purchase of stolen catalytic converters. The higher-level charge means someone convicted of the crime could face between 6 months and 2 and a half years behind bars, and up to a $10,000 fine.
“The prosecutors have a new tool in their toolbar to prosecute these people who do this, and hopefully provide some deterrents,” Freeman said.
Rhinehart hopes the two men who targeted her car will face such charges soon so someone else won’t have to deal with a similar situation.
“There’s other ways that you can make money and not steal from people who work for the things they have,” she said.
Campbell’s Highland Grille is planning to put a donation jar or bucket on display in the restaurant. Campbell says the company will match donations from patrons in an effort to help Rhinehart get her car repaired.
Anyone who recognizes the men in the security video below is asked to call Greenwood Police.