116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The Iowa House addressed the “growing problem” of catalytic converter theft by requiring recyclers and scrap metal dealers to keep a confidential log of paperwork authenticating ownership.
Senate File 2287 requires the seller to provide an original receipt for a replacement catalytic converter purchased fewer than 30 days before selling it to a scrap dealer or a junking certificate for a vehicle issued fewer than 30 days before the sale of the catalytic converter.
“What this bill does is to make sure that there's a paper trail for those who would break the law and to give a tool to law enforcement,” said Rep. Cherielynn Westrich, R-Ottumwa.
The bill also would be required to keep a confidential register or log of each transaction, including a copy of the information required by the bill.
Westrich did not offer data on the number of thefts, but said she heard from many people about catalytic converter thefts and the cost of replacing them. Victims, she said, include transit authorities.
The cost of a catalytic converter theft, including replacement, loss of the use of the vehicle and alternative transportation, can range from $1,000 to $3,000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
It reported catalytic converter thefts jumped from 1,298 in 2018 to 3,3,89 the following year to 14,433 — a 325 percent — in 2020.
“This is a much-needed legislation … because there is a huge uptick in the catalytic converters thefts,” said Rep. Charlie McConkey, D-Council Bluffs.
The bill passed 88-5. A Democratic amendment to require that a violation of the law had to be intentional in order for a scrap metal dealer to be prosecuted was rejected along party lines.
As of March 15, 35 states were either considering or had passed legislation to address catalytic converter thefts.
A catalytic converter, which looks like a small muffler in a vehicle’s exhaust system, converts hazardous emissions into less hazardous gasses. A variety of precious metals are used in catalytic converters, with prices ranging as high as $20,000 per ounce for rhodium, nearly $3,000 per ounce for palladium and $1,100 for platinum, according to the insurance bureau.
There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources and supply chain disruptions that drives catalytic converter thefts, the bureau said.
The bill goes back to the Senate because the House amended it.
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