Gov. Lombardo signs catalytic converter law that targets thieves
By Alyssa Bethencourt,2023-06-02
A stolen catalytic converter can cost car owners thousands of dollars to fix, but only takes seconds for criminals to cause the damage. Now, Nevada lawmakers are cracking down on these kinds of crimes.
On Wednesday, Governor Joe Lombardo signed a bill making it legal for police to arrest a person with a catalytic converter in their possession.
The provision will begin on Oct. 1, 2023.
"We've seen an increase in recent years of this theft," Officer Chris Ries, a detective with the Las Vegas Metro Police, told the lawmakers during a hearing in March. "From 2019 to 2022, catalytic converter thefts have increased over 1,200 percent. An experienced catalytic converter thief can remove a converter within minutes, with equipment easily found at a local hardware store. The cost to the victim of this crime could be thousands of dollars, not to mention the time, energy, and stress it also causes. Nearly every one of your constituents has either been affected by catalytic converter theft or knows someone who has."
The new law will increase penalties for catalytic converter theft, making it a felony charge that carries more severe penalties depending on how many the person possesses:
- 1 Catalytic Converter — Category E felony (punishable by 1-4 years, suspended, probation according to the court)
- 2-9 Converters — Category D felony (punishable by 1-4 years in prison with a maximum fine of $5,000)
- 10 or more Converters — Category C felony (punishable by 1-5 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000)
The law also makes it illegal for scrap yards to buy converters from individuals without proper documentation that shows the converter is from a car they own. Additionally, authorized purchasers of used catalytic converters could only buy them from licensed auto wreckers, licensed scrap metal processors, or other related businesses.
The law requires detailed record-keeping for the purchase of the devices and allows the court to suspend the licenses of a scrap metal dealers found in violation of the law for up to 30 days — and up to a year on the third offense.
For Marcus Duke, the Executive Director of the local non-profit, Club Kids, the new law means peace of mind. Duke says he used to spend his days driving all across Las Vegas helping those in need, but his service to the community came to an abrupt stop when his bus's catalytic converter was taken .
“There are so many other things we could be doing with those thousand dollars. That’s why it hasn’t been replaced yet. It’s happened to me four times already and I’ve only been in Las Vegas for three years,” Duke said.
In addition to Club Kids, multiple organizations and businesses have been deeply impacted by the theft of catalytic converters, including the Blind Center of Las Vegas, many local security companies , and even the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.