By The Staff of The Chronicle
A bill to crack down on the theft of catalytic converters passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday.
Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, of the Nineteenth Legislative District, who sponsored Senate Bill 5495, believes the bill remains the best defense against the rapidly rising trend in catalytic converter thefts in statewide, according to a news release.
The bill would enact new penalties such as leveraging up to $5,000 in fines for selling the stolen catalytic converters in addition to the possibility of a criminal judgment against the fencer. New record-keeping requirements regarding the sale of motor vehicle parts and the fines collected would pave the way for law enforcement to conduct “undercover” operations for the crime.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a crime take off like this,” Wilson said. “Since precious metal prices exploded two years ago, thousands of people have been robbed in Washington State alone. I spotted a robbery in progress this weekend, right across from my house, as thieves tried to break into a car. We can’t pretend it’s not happening, and we can’t put it off until next year.
The bill will be considered further by the Senate Rules Committee, which will lead to a possible vote in the Senate, with Monday being the deadline for policy-related bills to pass the tax committees.
In a related matter, the 1815 House Bill, a “competing proposal backed by the scrap industry” is also moving forward, having already been approved by the House Transportation Committee, according to the press release.
“(HB 1815) would leave most of the decisions to a task force that would make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly next year,” the statement said. “The industry proposal would also establish a voluntary national registry of catalytic converters, to track ownership after thefts have occurred.”