Florida lawmakers are moving forward with proposals to crack down on thefts of vehicle catalytic converters, which are valuable because they include sought-after precious metals.
The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday voted 17-1 to approve a catalytic converter bill (HB 185), sponsored by Rep. Fred Hawkins, R-St. Cloud.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday approved a similar measure (SB 306), sponsored by Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton. Citing National Insurance Crime Bureau reports, a House staff analysis said catalytic-converter thefts have increased 1,215 percent over the past three years.
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The pollution-control devices include precious metals such as palladium and platinum and can be sold by thieves for $50 to $250, according to the staff analysis. The House bill, for example, would create third-degree felony charges for “knowingly” purchasing, possessing or selling stolen catalytic converters.
Also, it would create an “inference” that people with two more detached catalytic converters knew or should have known they were stolen or fraudulently obtained. House members Wednesday recounted issues with stolen catalytic converters in various parts of the state.
“If someone saws it off your car, it is a big expense to get it fixed,” Rep. Chuck Brannan, R-Macclenny, said.
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