PHOENIX — The Arizona Legislature has successfully passed a bill that attempts to curb the state's rising number of catalytic converter thefts observed throughout the Valley.
House Bill 2652 adds a number of provisions to Arizona law that are intended to help law enforcement keep track of catalytic converters illegally stolen and sold on the black market.
The rich minerals contained inside converters have recently made this car part a valuable target for thieves, which has escalated the number of converter thefts recorded across the state in the last couple of years.
But it's difficult for police in Arizona to charge thieves unless they're caught in the act since converters often don't have numbers or identifiers that can be easily traced back to a victim.
State Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson, introduced HB 2652 this year to close some of the loopholes in Arizona's law and hopefully help investigators find more thieves trying to sell stolen converters.
Espinoza said this type of property crime has become a "big issue" in Arizona. He recalled one of his constituents informing him that they've had their catalytic converter stolen three separate times.
"(The bill) gives law enforcement the tools they need to go out and do their job and making sure we're apprehending the bad actors," Espinoza said during a Senate hearing earlier this year.
On Monday, the bill passed through the Arizona House of Representatives and Gov. Doug Ducey's signed it later that afternoon. HB 2652 goes into effect immediately because it contained an emergency clause.
The legislation will require every person who purchases a used catalytic converter to submit an electronic record of the sale to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
A scrap metal dealer will additionally be obligated to include a catalytic converter's unique identifying numbers and markings in their records.
The state's current law only prohibits the sale or purchase of converters from individuals who don't work for automotive recyclers or repair businesses. HB 2652 expands the law by also prohibiting the solicitation, advertisement, or possession of used converters by unlicensed individuals.
Law enforcement is now also able to conduct inspections more quickly of scrap metal businesses suspected of violating the state's regulations.
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