Catalytic Converter TheftJune 18, 2021
The problem of catalytic converter theft has reached crisis proportions in Texas, and action was required. Catalytic converters are automobile pollution control devices that contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. Rhodium is extracted from platinum, making it one of the rarest metals on earth. The price per ounce of palladium was about $2,300 early March 2021, and rhodium was selling at more than $26,000 per ounce.
Unfortunately, thieves can easily steal a catalytic converter from underneath a vehicle by cutting it away from the exhaust system. Once removed, these stolen catalytic converters are virtually untraceable because they lack unique identifying numbers such as a serial number or vehicle identification number. While only worth $150-$200 to the thief, the car owner may have to pay anywhere from $3000 to $11,000, depending on the damage caused from the removal. Compounding the problem, sellers are not required to disclose vehicle identification information for detached devices presented for recycling. A seller’s verbal or written declaration of legal authority to sell the device is all that is required.
Therefore, I authored House Bill 4110, which was signed by Governor Abbott on June 18th. This bill requires recyclers to collect a legible thumbprint from the seller, a vehicle identification information for each device purchased, and copies of a vehicle title or registration proving an ownership interest from individual sellers. Recyclers must also photograph each device from all sides, apply a unique inventory number to each one, and hold it for 5 days, excluding weekends and holidays, which allows law enforcement a reasonable opportunity to investigate theft complaints. Our hope is that this bill will crack down on these dangerous and costly thefts.