State lawmaker floats proposal to curb recent rise in catalytic converter thefts

Dec 7, 2021, 7:01 AM | Updated: 11:13 am
catalytic converter...
Sen. Jeff Wilson with a catalytic converter. (Photo courtesy of JeffWilsonforSenate/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of JeffWilsonforSenate/Facebook)

A Washington state lawmaker in Longview has filed legislation designed to stymie catalytic converter thieves.

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Thieves nationwide are stealing the emissions control devices because of the precious metals inside of them. State Senator Jeff Wilson wants strict rules for catalytic converter sales and charges for scrap dealers who knowingly purchase or accept stolen ones.

A similar law takes effect in Oregon next month, and Sen. Wilson is concerned it will encourage thieves to head up to Washington.

“Catalytic converter theft has become the crime of the day,” Wilson said in a recent news release. “We see reports on every police blotter in every corner of the state. And the crime has exploded in just the last year.”

A recent report found that catalytic converter thefts in Longview have skyrocketed in 2021, with 58 reported incidents through September, up from nine total cases in 2020, and three in 2019. Incidents have been on the rise in Everett, Seattle, and other parts of Western Washington as well.

As far back as 2020, Bucky’s Complete Auto Care said it had seen a 20-30% increase in catalytic converter replacements, while often struggling to keep the parts in stock.

Police: Carsharing vehicles being used as getaway cars in thefts

There are about two grams of palladium in each catalytic converter, a metal that sells for more than $2,000 an ounce. There are also 3-7 grams of platinum in each, which sells for more than $900 an ounce. If you strip about a dozen converters in a day, and you can get nearly $3,000.

If Wilson’s bill is passed, it would mandate that scrap dealers confirm the ownership of catalytic converters when they’re resold, and put in place measures to ensure better record-keeping. All payments made in cash would also be subject to a five-day waiting period.

KIRO Radio reporter Chris Sullivan contributed to this story.

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State lawmaker floats proposal to curb recent rise in catalytic converter thefts