HAMPTON ROADS, Va - The Virginia General Assembly approves legislation to toughen the penalty for stealing catalytic converters.
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.
Michael Ray, a Portsmouth resident is the latest victim of having his catalytic converter stolen.
"Oh My God, I got got! And I knew automatically that my converter was stolen. It upsets me because I work 2 jobs and still struggle. So now you got the backbone of COVID, the war going on, inflation. Everything and prices are going up and it’s just a lot of money like normal working people like myself," Ray said.
The Portsmouth man says someone stole it from his Ford Ranger when he was out of town.
"We were gone for a couple of days. Came back and took my trash out the next day. The following morning, I could see some pipe and stuff laying underneath my truck," Ray said.
Catalytic converters have become popular targets for thieves to cut out of a vehicle’s exhaust system. Thefts have increased across the country 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.
Both the House and Senate approved the legislation on Saturday. It now goes to Governor Youngkin's consideration.
"The offenders probably see it as a petty crime so the laws get introduced and the laws get passed, maybe that will cut down on them," Ray said.