Del. Rob Bell and Albemarle County working to stop catalytic converter thefts
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Law enforcement and law makers are cracking down on catalytic converter thefts. 58th District’s Delegate Rob Bell says this specific crime is an endemic and the numbers are rising.
The numbers could change come July, once HB 740 comes into effect.
“We actually saw about 419% increase of catalytic converter thefts, up to 187, during 2021,″ Albemarle County detective, Nicholas Richardson said.
He says this year, 54 catalytic converters have already been stolen, which is on track for the same total as last year.
“They can be sold in scrap yards from anywhere between 50 to $200,” Richardson said. “It’s just kind of gotten out about how easy it is to make money off of those and as a result we have seen the crime skyrocket.”
Albemarle County’s Delegate Rob Bell felt the need to help. His bill would up the punishment if found guilty of stealing a catalytic converter to a class six felony. One could face five years in prison for a crime of that level.
“It also makes it easier for them to prosecute the accessories and so that’s something that’s very hard to do under misdemeanor law, but with a felony in place, you can prosecute, so to speak, the whole team of people that are doing it,” Bell said.
Bell says this bill will also help track down the stolen pieces.
“There’s some specific criteria of what they have to do when someone comes in to try to prove ownership, or the steps and questions they ask about it. This would ensure that those papers are kept for up to two years and have to be provided to law enforcement,” Bell said.
He says that would help catch rings stealing the part.
“You would hope to see some effect relatively quickly, but then over time, is when you see the bigger impact that will help,” Bell said.
The law goes into effect July 1 but detective Richardson says there are some things you can do for now to help with evidence. He recommends having your converter marked as uniquely if you get it serviced, and parking in a garage if you can.
“You could also put some paint on it as well to mark it,” Richardson said.
He says if you live in an apartment complex, try parking your car closer to the building and if you see someone underneath a vehicle cutting one do not approach them. He recommends calling the police then.
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