Washington Legislature passes bill to limit catalytic converter theft

Mar 9, 2022, 7:02 PM | Updated: Mar 10, 2022, 6:40 am
catalytic converter...
A mechanic works on replacing a catalytic converter on a truck. (File photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(File photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Washington state Legislature approved a measure to curb catalytic converter theft.

The final version of the bill, HB 1815, places requirements on scrap yards and auto wreckers to solicit motor-vehicle ownership documentation to transact a catalytic converter sale. It also establishes grant funding for law enforcement sting operations, as well as a task force to recommend subsequent changes to relevant state law.

Two bills were originally proposed from either side of the aisle. Sen. Jeff Wilson’s (R-Longview) proposal to levy additional penalties against unlawful possession or sale of catalytic converts failed to reach House or Senate votes. The bill that ultimately passed was sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu (D- Shoreline), although amended by Republicans, including Wilson.

Competing proposals for catalytic converter theft crackdown up for Thursday vote

“I’m sure this is something the task force will consider, and that the Legislature will be dealing with this issue next year,” wrote Sen. Wilson in a news release.

“In the meantime, the most important thing is to take action now, before more catalytic converters are stolen. What we’re doing this year is breaking the chain and eliminating the incentive for catalytic converter theft, by making it extremely difficult to sell a stolen catalytic converter to a legitimate business in the state of Washington. It’s a great place to start.”

A complete listing of the bill’s requirements can be found below:

  • Requires the Washington State University to convene a catalytic converter theft workgroup.
  • Requires the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs when funded, to establish a grant and training program to assist local law enforcement agencies targeting metal theft.
  • Requires scrap metal businesses engaging in a transaction involving a catalytic converter removed from a vehicle to maintain documentation that the seller’s private metal property was the result of the seller replacing private metal property from a vehicle registered in the seller’s name.
  • Imposes additional fines for violations of criminal laws related metal property.
  • This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
  • Creates a Consumer Protection Act violation for facilitating the offer of used catalytic converters for sale without first verifying proof of ownership of the catalytic converter, or failing to retain verified records of ownership of used catalytic converters offered for sale for at least two years.
  • Limits cash payments for nonferrous metal property to not more than $30 while allowing the balance to be paid by check or electronic methods at the time of the transaction.
  • Provides that vehicle wreckers businesses’ record keeping requirements apply to catalytic converters.
  • Prohibits cash payments by scrap metal businesses and vehicle wreckers for transactions involving catalytic converters.

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Washington Legislature passes bill to limit catalytic converter theft