New proposal to up penalties for catalytic converter thieves

KHON - February 18, 2020
Kimberlee Speakman

Over the past year, catalytic converters have been getting stolen from cars.

“They have precious metals in them that help in the conversion of the bad gasses to the good gasses. It has platinum and it has a little bit of gold, so they’re valuable,” said Frank Young, K & Y Auto owner.

Frank Young has been working on cars for decades. He said a used single converter can sell to scrap dealers for anywhere between $100 and $150.
“To have these replaced in some of these cars is anywhere from 500 to in some cases 3500, 4000 dollars. That’s insane. So how do you protect that you know?,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, who introduced the bill.

Under the measure, the crime for stealing a catalytic converter will be upped to a Class C felony, which means thieves can get up to 5 years in jail and pay a $10,000 fine.
The other part of Sen. Gabbard’s idea is to create a paper trail during the buying and selling process to weed out stolen parts.

If someone wants to sell a converter, they need to present a receipt from the place where they bought it from, as well as a photo ID which the buyer must copy and put into their records.

“You’ve got that yeah, you’ve got a trail, a paper trail, some kind of ID, some kind of way to track down where this came from,” said Gabbard.

If a person isn’t able to present this information, he said it’s up to the buyer to call police.

KHON asked Gabbard whether this could unintentionally harm innocent sellers – for example someone selling the part off an old car they own, but don’t have a receipt for – he said police would have to investigate.

It is also unclear in the bill who will be enforcing the law and who will be checking to see if buyers comply with all the paperwork.

Young said he believes this won’t work to curb crime.

“You can write up your own receipt, I mean there’s a lot of things you can forge the paper work, and the recyclers are going to take it. He doesn’t know it’s forged paperwork,” said Young.
The measure will be heard on Thursday, Feb. 20.