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Bill aimed at deterring catalytic converter thefts approved by Missouri House committee


The Missouri House of Representatives Committee on Emerging Issues approved a bill Wednesday that aims to deter catalytic converter thieves by ruining their market.

The committee chose to combine several similar or related bills to House Bill 1721, including one introduced by Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia). The bill will now be put on the House calendar for debate by the full legislative body.

Catalytic converters are the part of the car that filters out emissions and helps a car run smoothly. But inside, there are precious metals such as platinum and rhodium that thieves are after. These can be sold for a pretty penny.

"Depending on the vehicle the price of that also varies from car to car. I mean, if we can get a universal put on it, between $300 or $400. It only goes up from there," said A to Z Auto mechanic Leroy Moore.

Catalytic converter theft has risen 900% nationwide since 2019, according to Bumper. However, it has declined in the past year. The Kansas City International Airport was one of the top 10 airports targeted by thieves in 2023, according to Bumper.

In Columbia, concern about catalytic converters appears to have peaked in 2021. According to Columbia Police records, the words "catalytic converter" appeared in 126 police reports in 2021 and 57 reports in 2023. Christian Tabak with Columbia Police says this number represents the number of incidents involving catalytic converter theft, not the exact number of converters stolen.

Number of police incidents each year that involved catalytic converter theft according to Columbia Police records.

In October 2023, three men were charged with the thefts of 18 catalytic converters from A to Z Auto in Columbia.

"There's an epidemic in Columbia, Missouri, and around the country with the thefts of catalytic converters," Tyson Smith said. "So this bill is designed to crack down and it goes after metal dealers so they can't buy catalytic converters that are stolen."

The goal of his bill is to eliminate the demand for stolen converters by cutting off the buyers.

"There's consequences; they could lose their license," Tyson Smith said. "They have to keep detailed records where they're getting these catalytic converters because it's become such a problem around the country that something has to be done."

The idea has bipartisan support, but there's always a critic. The Institute of Scrap Metal Recycling Industries and Advantage Metal Recycling testified against the bill.

"There are some lobbyists that have clients that make money from the metal dealers, and so obviously they're against that," Tyson Smith said. "But I represent the people  and not the metal dealers who are just buying stolen catalytic converters."

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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