RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia General Assembly approved legislation Saturday to toughen the penalty for stealing catalytic converters.
The emission control devices have become popular targets for thieves to cut out of a vehicle’s exhaust system. Thefts have increased across the country over the last two years as prices for the precious metals they contain have skyrocketed.
Thieves can expect to get anywhere from $50 to $1,000 or more if they sell the converters to scrap yards, which then sell them to recycling facilities to reclaim the precious metals inside, including platinum, palladium and rhodium.
The legislation makes tampering with or stealing a catalytic converter a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Stealing a converter is currently a misdemeanor. The legislation also requires people who sell catalytic converters to show identification, which the purchaser must record.
“We need to more seriously criminalize people who are damaging vehicles,” said Republican Sen. Frank Ruff Jr., the lead sponsor of the Senate bill.
Both the House and Senate approved the legislation on Saturday. It now goes to Gov. Glenn Youngkin for his consideration.
RELATED: Catalytic converter thefts rising in Virginia, nationwide