Longview senator encourages public testimony
OLYMPIA – Sen. Jeff Wilson’s plan to crack down on catalytic converter theft in Washington state gets a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
Senate Bill 5495 prohibits resale of used catalytic converters to scrap dealers, except from commercial enterprises and vehicle owners, and bars cash payments on the spot. The hearing is set for 10:30 a.m.
Wilson’s bill, modeled after a law that took effect this month in Oregon, targets one of the fastest-growing crimes in the country. Skyrocketing prices for precious metals used in catalytic converters are driving thefts in Washington state and nationwide.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a crime that has caught on like this one,” said Wilson, R-Longview. “Catalytic converter theft has taken off in the last year, and Washington needs to tighten its laws pronto.”
According to BeenVerified, a national data-analysis firm, referring to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and Google Trends, there were just 42 catalytic converter thefts in Washington state in 2019, 592 in 2020 and a whopping 3,379 through Sept. 30, 2021. Oregon was one of 11 states last year to enact tough new laws to deter theft. Wilson says the south-of-the border crackdown could put additional pressure on Washington as organized theft rings follow the path of least resistance.
Wilson’s bill also requires scrap dealers to keep records of catalytic converter purchases, including vehicle ID numbers and seller identification.
“Across the state we’re seeing thieves crawling under cars and trucks and sawing through tailpipes,” Wilson said. “They’re targeting busy parking lots, vehicles parked along roadways, even school buses, often doing significant damage to vehicle emission systems. And when repairs cost $1,000 and up, this isn’t a nuisance crime, it’s a serious matter.
“I hope those who have been impacted by this crime will contact their legislators and let them know what they think. If they wish to register their views or testify at the hearing, the process is easy, and it can be done remotely from home.”
The hearing will be streamed live on the TVW website at https://tvw.org/video/senate-law-justice-committee-2022011508/?eventID=2022011508.
Those wishing to testify or express a position on the bill can do so prior to the hearing by following links on the Washington Legislature’s website at www.leg.wa.gov.
The direct links are below. To state your position on the bill, use this link:
To testify, use this link:
The sign-up period ends one hour before the hearing begins.