We have been among several outlets in the past few years to report on upticks in catalytic converter thefts. These car parts are valuable because of the money the thief can obtain for them once the precious metals they contain are melted down. They're also super easy to access and nab from a vehicle. They generally sell them to scrap metal dealers and recyclers for cash.
The materials in a catalytic converter can net the thief who resells it up to $20,000 and an Iowa lawmaker says replacing it can cost the vehicle owner upwards of $3000. It's been such a problem that the Iowa legislature has finally decided to work on a bill to prevent it, or at least stiffen the punishment for it.
According to Radio Iowa, a bill has gone to Iowa governor Kim Reynolds' desk that would create a "paper trail" for stolen catalytic converter thefts and, for that matter, thefts of other car parts. Iowa representative Cherielynn Westrich of Ottumwa says
What this bill does is make sure that there’s a paper trail for those who would break the law and to give a tool to law enforcement when they’re trying to find the person who stole that catalytic converter
For those selling a catalytic converter to recyclers and scrap metal dealers, the bill would require the seller to show a receipt showing they’ve "purchased a replacement catalytic converter within the past month or the certificate for a vehicle that’s recently been junked". Recyclers and scrap metal dealers would then keep a confidential log of that paperwork. In short, this will make it easier for law enforcement to track thieves. No receipt or certificate to show you went through the proper channels to get it? That probably means you stole it.
According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, 35 states have already passed or are considering legislation like this, so it's a serious issue. It's an easy and definitely sleazy way to make money in a time of rising costs and supply chain shortages and it looks like Iowa will be next to address it.
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