That catalytic converter was “hanging by a thread” when Edgar photographed it near his house at 42nd and Brandon. He’s the guy who, as reported here in October, literally kicked a would-be catalytic-converter thief out from under his own car. Early today, 2:30 am-ish, Edgar says, his wife scared off the people trying to make off with the one in the photo. When he emailed us this afternoon, he and his neighbors hadn’t yet figured out whose car that is. But regarding catalytic-converter theft in general, Edgar says, “This has got to stop.”
So here’s what’s being done at the state level: We noted earlier this month that four bills addressing catalytic-converter theft have been introduced in the State Legislature session that began earlier this month. The city of Seattle is advocating for HB 1815, which has more than two dozen co-sponsors, including West Seattle’s 34th District State House Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. From the bill text (which you can read in its entirety here):
The legislature finds that rates of catalytic converter theft have rapidly increased statewide and nationwide, due in part to existing challenges with accurately identifying stolen catalytic converters. The legislature further finds that victims of catalytic converter theft often incur costs that far exceed the monetary value of the catalytic converters themselves. The legislature further finds that catalytic converter theft is a multifaceted issue that requires collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, scrap metal dealers, and other involved parties to identify comprehensive solutions.
Therefore, the legislature intends to establish a pilot project to mark catalytic converters with unique, permanent identifiers, thereby enabling law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and scrap metal dealers to more effectively track the ownership of catalytic converters and identify stolen property. The legislature further intends to gather and utilize data from the pilot project to inform additional efforts to address catalytic converter theft in Washington state. The legislature further intends to establish a task force with the goal of developing effective tools and methods for deterring catalytic converter theft, identifying and recovering stolen catalytic converters, and lowering costs to victims of catalytic converter theft.
The pilot project would be overseen by the State Patrol and would focus on “vehicles that are most frequently targeted for catalytic converter theft …” The WSP would have to provide a report on the pilot project by October of next year. Meantime, the task force would be established with members including legislators, law enforcers, judges, reps from the scrap-metal and recycling industries, plus “two members representing individuals with lived experience being charged with, or convicted of, organized theft.”
Last week, West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold testified in support of HB 1815 at a legislative hearing. She wrote about it in her weekly online/email update and mentioned it during yesterday’s council-briefing meeting. Herbold also is advocating for a repeal of the state law that says only the state can regulate scrap-metal processors, recyclers, and suppliers.
HB 1815 has been referred to the state House Public Safety Committee, which is expected to review it in executive session this Thursday. As for the other three bills, SB 5495 had a hearing today; the other two – HB 1873 and HB 1994 – have been referred to committees and are awaiting action.