Ryu’s catalytic converter theft deterrence bill passes House

Olympia—In a rare Saturday floor session, the Washington House of Representatives passed legislation to stem the sharp rise in catalytic converter thefts across Washington state. HB 1815 requires a scrap metal business engaging in a transaction involving a catalytic converter removed from a vehicle to record documentation indicating that it came from a vehicle registered in the seller’s name.

“Stolen catalytic converters contain precious metals which can be sold for quick cash. However, the amount that thieves receive for a stolen catalytic converter is typically around 10 percent of the total costs suffered by the owners of the vehicles they are stolen from,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline), the legislation’s lead sponsor.

“Older vehicles are effectively totaled by catalytic converter theft, compounding the harm for people who depend on their vehicle to get to work, or to drive their kids to school.

“All of our constituents are finding higher prices at the grocery store, and policymakers have a responsibility to do all we can to keep supply chains moving. The trucking industry is begging us to help prevent catalytic converter thefts from further breaking down the delivery of goods and food. That’s why I am pleased by the bipartisan vote, but surprised it wasn’t unanimous,” Ryu continued.

The bill also requires the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to establish a program to assist local law enforcement agencies for special enforcement of metal theft, an important measure to crack down on catalytic converter theft and illegal sales. “We need to make sure law enforcement has the resources and training to deter catalytic converter theft and respond adequately when it happens. This legislation lays the groundwork to reverse the massive spike in theft that communities around our state are experiencing,” said Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way), a cosponsor of the bill.

“I will make sure the Transportation Budget includes funding for a grant program to assist local agencies crack down on catalytic converter theft and catch the people responsible for this cruel crime which hurts our seniors and lowest income families the most. I was proud to vote for this bill which I hope will provide some peace of mind to families,” said Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), Chair of the House Transportation Committee.

The bill passed the House 68-30. The roll call vote can be found here.