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Colorado Lawmakers Working On Plan To Stop Catalytic Converter Theft

DENVER (CBS4) - Catalytic converter theft has been on the rise in the Denver metro area. Now state lawmakers are working to curb these crimes affecting the livelihoods of Coloradans. More than 2,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the city of Denver alone in 2021.

"It was a bummer. You start losing faith in humanity and wondering why people are resorting to this kind of thing," said Edwin Watkins, a Denver resident whose catalytic converter was stolen last week.

His neighbor's catalytic converter has been stolen twice.

The cost to repair his vehicle was more than the car was worth. As he shops for another car, he can't help but wonder how safe it will be.

"Hopefully the police department is putting together some kind of a detective unit or something to see if they can find the thefts occurring," said Watkins.

If the bill is passed, it will be against the law to install, sell, offer for sale, or advertise any used, recycled, or salvaged catalytic converter unless it has been certified for installation and sale by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment after Oct. 31.

Colorado's stricter emission standards that went into place this year are meant to help the state's air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it has resulted in some car parts becoming more expensive.

"Our current regulations have made it really difficult to find replacement catalytic converters," said state Rep. Shannon Bird. "They're super hard to replace, costly, and puts people out of work when they can't get to work."

Representative Bird is one of the sponsors of the bill.

"One of the things that we're doing is trying to clamp down on is the demand for a stolen catalytic converter, so making it illegal to sell a catalytic converter that hasn't already been certified by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment," said Bird. "Before you can resell it to somebody, you have to make sure that it's certified by the department."

However, some thieves aren't looking to sell the actual car part. Precious metals in catalytic converters can be worth hundreds at scrapyards.

For the purposes of regulating purchases of commodity metals, the bill would also amend the definition of "commodity metal" to include rhodium, palladium or platinum-clad components of a catalytic converter.

Catalytic converters help control exhaust emission in vehicles. You often won't know it's gone until you start your car. Not only are these crimes detrimental to the lives of working Coloradans, Bird says stolen catalytic converters are also bad for the environment.

"The fact that we don't have them on our cars not only can make the car unusable but runs counter to all of our efforts to try to keep our air clean. We have lots of reasons to try to clamp down and make it harder and make it less desirable to steal catalytic converters," said Bird.

The bill has bipartisan sponsorship and Bird says lawmakers will be looking for victims of catalytic converter theft to share their stores in the coming months.

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