catalytic converter winter haven theft Polk county

Lawmakers Look To Curb Catalytic Converter Thefts In Florida

catalytic converter winter haven theft Polk county
Catalytic converter theft in Winter Haven (TFP File Photo)

The Florida House and Senate are speeding toward trying to curb thefts of vehicle catalytic converters.

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee voted 14-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill (HB 185) that would make a series of changes in criminal laws to try to crack down on the thefts.

Catalytic converters are valuable because they include precious metals such as palladium and platinum.

House bill sponsor Fred Hawkins, R-St. Cloud, said thieves cut catalytic converters off vehicles and then sell them because of the metals.

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“This is a crime that usually the victims don’t realize it’s happened to them right away,” Hawkins said. “They come out, start their car from parking overnight, or they’re in the shopping mall; it can happen that quick.”

On Tuesday, the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a Senate version of the bill (SB 306).

The House bill, in part, would create third-degree felony charges for “knowingly” purchasing, possessing or selling stolen catalytic converters.

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Also, it would create an “inference” that people with two or more detached catalytic converters knew or should have known they were stolen or fraudulently obtained.

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