Bill aimed at deterring catalytic converter thefts headed to governor’s desk

Catalytic converter

The Washington House of Representatives granted final legislative approval Tuesday night to HB 1815, aimed at deterring the theft of catalytic converters. The bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.

The bill, sponsored by 32nd District Rep. Cindy Ryu of Shoreline, was prompted by a wave of catalytic converter thefts over the last two years, as precious metal prices have peaked and used converters command high prices for recycling.

The final legislation includesl amendments to include:

  • Additional documentation requirements of the scrap metal recyclers and vehicle wreckers
  • A three-day cooling off period for them to make payments beyond $30 to sellers
  • Creating a Consumer Protection Act violation
  • While not creating new crimes, imposing fines of $1,000 per catalytic converter for violations of existing metal theft laws
  • Adding an emergency clause while giving several weeks for businesses to adopt these new practices
  • Establishing a grant and training program through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to assist local law enforcement agencies targeting metal theft
Rep. Cindy Ryu

“This bill became stronger because colleagues engaged with the industry, the Governor’s Office and law enforcement agencies every step of the way,” Ryu said. “With the governor’s signature, the new law can help reverse the spike in catalytic converter thefts, and the Washington State University work group will help inform further efforts the state can take to protect people from this crime.”

Under one of the bill’s amendments, Washington State University would convene a catalytic converter workgroup to make recommendations to reduce catalytic converter theft, including changes to state law. Members would include representatives of police, prosecutors, courts, affected industries, insurers and crime victims. A final report would be due Jan. 1, 2023.


  1. Convening a workgroup to make recommendations = a lot of $ and time spent with no real solutions implemented. How many of the bullet points above would be applicable if the converters were shipped out-of-state for processing?

  2. This is another knee-jerk response to crime. It creates a bureaucratic process in documentation for business owners. It’s not going to stop the thief from stealing catalytic converters. Convening a workgroup will be a waste of time and money. But it will provide an opportunity for the politicians to give themselves a pat on the back and thinking they did something.

  3. I don’t think this will be helpful but I don’t know that it is harmful in anyway either. I sincerely doubt that they are being fenced here. I would guess they are going out of state or at the least out of county to Pierce maybe. Or out of state for the actual selling and then they will do the extraction of the metals. This is big money and the little guy or girl under your car is just the patsy. The robber probably doesn’t get much for their theft… just like with drugs, the street sellers are just intro level…maybe living on the streets themselves. Or addicted individuals trying to get enough to feed that habit.
    There is no simple solution except a very violent and stringent law that incarcerates. Here we don’t do this so that is OK with me but don’t expect it to change. Why would it change? Its so sad all of it to me. What we need to fix it, we don’t want to pay for. And yes it would be expensive but the outcome could be worth it. My suggestion is not prisons but special units around the state for incarceration and counseling and education on computers etc. They may come out clean and ready for a life that fits better with everyday society. Expensive probably. But what else can we do. I want to help people and help them be part of community too and have a chance at a decent life. Do we have room NO, Do we have the money (it would need to come from Olympia) Just talking to people with substance abuse or alcohol problems doesn’t fix them. We all know this who have alcoholics in our families. The alcohol always comes first sadly. I know. I have known a number of morning til pass out alcoholics and well some are quite functional and can get to work and then straight to the bottle until morning…repeat. Maybe more community love.

  4. Why not just take the profit out of scrapping them. Instead of paying just anyone for the scrap metal value put a $50.00 recycling fee on anyone other than an authorized licensed dealer or repairman who turns one in. It costs money to recycle a lead acid battery. Likewise, why not just make it cost money to recycle the converters unless you have a legitimate reason to be recycling them. The reason these things are getting stolen is the recycling industry makes a bundle on them – essentially like legalized fencing of stolen goods. The repair industry experts know that way more converters are being turned in than are failing at normal rates from use, so that could be the basis of making such a law.

  5. Sometimes we have laws that work on both the buyer and seller. Prostitution for example. It may be worth some time to see if there are ways for CCs to be handled in the same way.

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