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Virginia’s Strictly Combating Catalytic Converter Theft

Virginia is set to implement strict regulations on the sale of detached catalytic converters beginning July 1. Following an increase in catalytic converter thefts and the negative impact this crime has on vehicle owners and the environment, the state has increased the offense from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony! 

This measure is intended to discourage individuals from taking part in the illegal trade of these essential vehicle components, while also ensuring that sales are conducted legally and with proper oversight. 


Detached Stolen Catalytic Converters and the Theft Concern: 

Catalytic converters play an important role in reducing harmful emissions from vehicles by converting toxic pollutants into less harmful substances using precious metals. Unfortunately, their recycling value and the presence of precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium have made them extremely appealing targets for thieves. The rapid rise in catalytic converter thefts puts significant financial burdens on vehicle owners. 


Felony Classification for Catalytic Converter Theft: 

Anyone found guilty of purchasing, selling, or offering for sale a detached catalytic converter will face this Class 6 felony charge under the new legislation. While a class 6 felony is the least serious of all felony charges, it still presents considerable risk to criminals. This classification indicates the magnitude of the offense and the state’s commitment to putting a stop to this illegal trade, and it generally carries a one-year prison sentence up to five years in some states.  


It’s important to note that scrap metal buyers who follow all the rules, can continue to sell detached catalytic converters legally. 


Why Scrap Metal Recyclers are Important: 

Scrap metal recyclers play an important role in the automotive circular economy framework. When operated legally, these businesses provide an avenue for individuals to legitimately sell detached catalytic converters ultimately conserving natural resources and reducing impact of mining and extraction. Scrap metal recyclers contribute to the traceability of these components and help prevent the trafficking of stolen converters by following all the required provisions, such as maintaining records, verifying the seller’s identity, and reporting transactions. The precious metals are strategic minerals that are essential to many industries from automotive to medical. If you work in the automotive industry or recycle, this article on anti-money laundering will help you understand some procedures that must be in place.  


Find out why Noble6® is your trusted resource for legitimately selling your catalytic converters.  


Impacts of Catalytic Converter Theft: 

The rise in catalytic converter thefts has had an impact on not only vehicle owners, but also insurance companies and even the environment. Replacing stolen converters can cost thousands of dollars, which cause insurance premiums to rise. According to new Carfax data, up to 153,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the United States in 2022. Additionally, the negative impact on the environment is caused by the release of pollutants from vehicles missing catalytic converters. 


Noble6 Talks Podcast: Precious Metals Pricing Leads to 10x Increase in Catalytic Converter Theft! 


Educating Vehicle Owners on Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention: 


While legislation is being enacted to combat catalytic converter theft, it is also critical to educate vehicle owners about the issue and promote preventative measures. Simply making the regulations more stringent in Virginia does not solve the entire problem, however, it is a good start. In some states and unique circumstances, the act of catalytic converter theft may be marked as petty theft misdemeanor punishable with a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in county jail. For vehicle owners it is best to try and alleviate some of the risk of this happening to you. Simple measures such as parking in well-lit areas, engraving identification numbers on converters, and installing protective shields can deter thieves while also making it easier to track stolen components. Learn how to prevent catalytic converter theft here. 


The decision by Virginia to criminalize the sale of detached catalytic converters without proper oversight is a significant step toward combating this growing criminal activity. The state intends to deter potential offenders, protect vehicle owners from financial burdens, and protect the environment from the harmful effects of increased emissions by instituting the Class 6 felony classification. Collaboration among law enforcement agencies, scrap metal purchasers/recyclers, and public awareness campaigns will be critical in reducing catalytic converter theft and promoting a safer, more sustainable future.  


Will the rest of the states follow suit with this classification? The only way to know is to wait and see.



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