Public Comments for: HB740 - Catalytic converters; penalty.
I do not support any bills that criminalize folks
On behalf of the nearly 3000 Independent Auto Dealers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Independent Automobile Dealers Association (VIADA) strong supports HB740. Catalytic Converter theft is an endemic that effects people from all walks of life and businesses both big and small.
As Chief of Police in Lexington, Virginia, I am in full support of these bills to assist law enforcement with the prevention and prosecution of offenders who steal catalytic converters. Last year in 2021, the City of Lexington experienced a substantial increase of (16) catalytic converters stolen representing a 1500% increase compared to the prior year 2020, with only (1) incident of a catalytic converter stolen. Unfortunately, we were not able to effectuate arrests in these matters but developed a group of solid suspects who were identified and stopped on multiple occasions, in the suspected crime of stealing catalytic converters, with information that these individuals were selling the stolen goods to a scrap metal purchaser in Richmond, Virginia. Since catalytic converters do not have serial numbers or identifiable marks that can be connected back to a damaged car, we were not able to garner enough probable cause to effectuate arrests on these individuals. The approval of these bills will assist with the deterrence of the crime as the offenders will not have the ability to readily sell these stolen goods and increase law enforcement’s ability to charge the scrap metal purchasers, who accept questionable property from individuals who are not authorized scrap sellers.
The theft of catalytic converters has become a major issue in our community (City of Danville). Throughout 2021, we experienced a drastic increase in the theft of catalytic converters: From January to May there were 3 Catalytic Converters reported stolen throughout the city of Danville. During the months of June, July, and August investigators noticed an increase to about 5 per month. During the months of September and October there was a drastic increase to 10 and 21 reported thefts, respectively. Concentrated efforts results in 29 felony arrests/18 mindemeanor charges. HB 740 and HB 1214 would provide our community with addtional resources to combat this crime and deter future offending.
I want to offer my support of this bill as a law enforcement professional. The problem of catalytic converter theft is one that disables vehicles and leaves vehicle owns stranded with extremely expensive repairs, some of which are not covered by any insurance.
I am writing as an executive board member of VACP and the Chief of Police in Buena Vista to show support for HB 740. I feel this bill adequately addresses the issues of larceny of vehicle parts specifically Catalytic Converters, it holds the scrap yard dealers liable for what materiel they take in it also enhances the penalties for the offender since much of the vehicle parts are not traceable but we know they were stolen.
Catalytic Converter Thefts Chesterfield County has seen a noteworthy increase in catalytic converter thefts over the past two years. In 2020, 178 such thefts were reported. That number increased to 516, reported in 2021. While 2020 is still early, if all things remain consistent, we are on track to experience 699 catalytic converter thefts in 2022. This increase in all the more stunning when one considers that our county experienced a double-digit drop in crime last year. We estimate the total property loss from these thefts in 2020 and 2021 to be $573,600 between 860,400. We appreciate this matter being taken into consideration and support legislation to inhibit this trend, further penalize offenders, or otherwise disrupt an emerging criminal enterprise that’s costing Virginia’s millions of dollars each year. Thank you. Respectfully, Col. Jeffrey S. Katz, Chief of Police - Chesterfield County 2nd VP, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police