Bill to stop auto part thievery speeds through second committee stop
Image via Colin Hackley

Even the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has been hit.

A bill seeking to stop catalytic converter thievery is advancing — and it’s got some bipartisan momentum.

Republican Sen. Jim Boyd proposed the bill (SB 306) known as the “Catalytic Converter Antitheft Act.” The Senate Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice approved it unanimously.

Democratic Rep. Joe Casello and Republican Rep. Fred Hawkins have proposed similar legislation (HB 185). That bill has also received a committee nod and is on the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee’s Wednesday agenda.

Boyd told the committee the thefts are a growing problem. And it’s not because thieves are after the auto part for its emissions-reducing qualities. Thieves seek them because of the precious metals inside. The palladium and platinum in their core can be worth more than $1,000 on the black market, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“It’s affecting fleets of cars, it’s affecting dealers. It’s affecting businesses that have large numbers of cars and individuals in their driveways,” Boyd said during Tuesday’s hearing.

A recent, national crime ring in nine states involved $545 million worth of stolen catalytic converters, according to the Justice Department. The difficulty in tracing these valuable items makes them even more attractive to criminals.

It’s even hit some of the nation’s most iconic brands, Boyd said.

“I’ve learned that the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile also suffered theft of its catalytic converter and put it out of commission,” Boyd said.

News reports detail that one of the six, 27-foot roving shrines to processed meat was hit while parked in Las Vegas ahead of Super Bowl weekend.

“That was a bridge too far,” Boyd said.

Boyd’s bill is trying to stop the market in its tracks by tightening who can purchase the detached auto part and specifying what record-keeping legitimate dealers must maintain.

The bill also provides for suspicion to fall on anyone who owns two or more detached catalytic converters without a good reason.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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