LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Law enforcement across South Carolina have reported an ‘upward trend’ in reported catalytic converter thefts.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said they arrested a man suspected of having 83 stolen catalytic converters just a few weeks ago.
Captain Adam Myrick said, “It’s very surprising for a lot of people to figure out that one of the most valuable pieces of their car is up under it.”
According to law enforcement, it takes just a few minutes for thieves to saw the emission control device from a car. And you could get stuck with a repair bill for thousands of dollars.
Deputies said thieves can take the catalytic converter to a scrapyard and make a couple hundred bucks. Captain Myrick said they are after what’s inside the converter.
“The metals inside, particularly palladium, rhodium and platinum, are so valuable out there,” he said.
State lawmakers want to crack down on this crime. Representative Chris Wooten (R-District 69) is the co-sponsor of a bill that would do just that.
He filed the bill along with Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-District 74).
“We don’t want to hurt the people who are doing it the right way but the people who are traveling across the state with 60 or 80 converters in their car are not doing it the right way,” Rep. Wooten said.
Their bill passed unanimously in the House. It would make buying or selling stolen converters a crime that could land you in prison for up to three years. It would also require a paper trail of how the converter ended up detached from a vehicle.
Rep. Wooten said, “We’re not telling anyone you can’t sell your catalytic converter – you just need a receipt that shows it’s your catalytic converter or from a car you’re working on.”
Lawmakers said states that have passed similar legislation have seen a decrease in reported thefts.
The bill is currently in committee in the Senate.
Captain Myrick said you can reach out to your mechanic and see if there is anti-theft device you could put on your car for the catalytic converter.