Over the past several years, catalytic converter thefts in Texas have been on the rise. To combat the problem, lawmakers passed legislation in 2021 making it a felony to steal, buy or sell stolen catalytic converters in Texas. In this article, we are going to explain the crime and consequences of catalytic converter theft in Texas, and answer some frequently asked questions about this unusual trend.
What is a catalytic converter?
A catalytic converter is a muffler-shaped device on the underside of a vehicle that helps reduce harmful emissions from a vehicle’s engine. Catalytic converters are required by law on all new vehicles sold in the United States.
Why are catalytic converters being stolen?
Catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium, which makes them attractive to people looking to make quick money. After stealing the catalytic converter, they turn around and sell the car part to junkyards, metal recyclers, or on the black market.
Why has there been an increase in catalytic converter thefts in Texas?
The price of the precious metals contained in catalytic converters has increased in recent years in Texas and across the county, which has led to an increase in thefts. Platinum, palladium, and rhodium all sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars per ounce.
How is catalytic converter theft committed?
Most catalytic converter thefts are committed by someone who slides under a vehicle and cuts off the catalytic converter with a small, battery-operated saw with a metal cutting blade. The process takes minutes. Catalytic converters are often stolen from driveways and apartment parking lots.
What are the consequences of catalytic converter theft in Texas?
Catalytic converter theft in Texas is now a felony offense. In June 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4110, which made it a state jail felony to steal, buy or sell stolen catalytic converters.
A state felony is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,00 fine.
In 2023, Lawmakers went a step further in addressing catalytic converter theft in Texas by strengthening the penalties and criminalizing the possession of unlawfully removed converters.
TX SB 224 states that: if the defendant has a prior conviction for this offense, was involved in organized crime, or possessed a firearm, the charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
This legislation is known as the Deputy Darren Almendarez Act, named in honor of the late Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Almendarez, who tragically lost his life while trying to prevent a group of thieves from stealing his own catalytic converter.
What does the catalytic converter theft law require?
Among other things, TX HB 4110 requires people selling catalytic converters to provide the year, make, model, and vehicle identification number from the vehicle in which the part was removed. It also requires metal recycling facilities to take a thumbprint of the person selling them the catalytic converter and mark each catalytic converter with a unique number. Failure to abide by these regulations could result in a criminal offense.
Charged with catalytic converter theft in Fort Worth or surrounding areas? Contact Us.
If you have been charged with catalytic converter theft, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We can help. Our team has successfully defended thousands of felony cases in Fort Worth and will work diligently to obtain the most favorable outcome possible. Call Varghese Summersett today at 817-203-2220 for a free consultation with a catalytic converter theft lawyer in Fort Worth.