SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Independent School District was the latest victim to catalytic converter thieves when 20 vehicles were discovered to have had their catalytic converters stolen on Tuesday.
In May, about 50 Mitsubishi dealership vehicles were targeted in a crime that has become a bigger problem since the coronavirus pandemic, according to area police and those in the auto repair industry.
Texas lawmakers are looking to increase the penalty for those caught selling and buying stolen catalytic converters.
HB 4110 would amend an existing code to require metal recycling companies to maintain and submit records when they purchase catalytic converters.
The proposed law would require buyers to get a seller’s ID, year, make, model and VIN number from which the catalytic converter was removed.
Additionally, the law also requires a copy of the certificate title or ownership documentation.
The proposed law also has other documentation requirements for the recycling companies and the thumbprints of the seller. Sellers would only get $25 cash for regulated metal. Auto repair-type businesses would also be required to keep records of the catalytic converters they remove.
Rep. Gene Wu, of Houston, was one of the co-authors of the bill, he says victims have suffered for too long.
“No law will ever stop all crime. But the whole point of this is to make it easier to prosecute, make it easier to investigate and make it easier to go after the bad guys,” Wu said. “Right now, we have a system that essentially just covers our eyes and says we don’t see anything. That doesn’t really work. We have to be able to at least take proactive measures to try to stop this type of illegal behavior.”
Wu says the crime costs people and companies thousands of dollars and has only gotten worse throughout the pandemic.
“If they fail to do what’s required in this law, it will be a felony and it will be prosecuted by your local D.A.,” Wu said. “Right now, it’s only a class A misdemeanor.”
Gov. Abbott has until June 20 to sign or veto the bill, if it isn’t signed it will still become law and take effect Sept. 1.