When it comes to cars, catalytic converters are a key part.
Missouri lawmakers want to make sure all catalytic converters sold at auto shops are acquired lawfully.
Since February, as cases of stolen catalytic converters have continued to pop up across the state, Rep. Don Mayhew, R-Crocker, has been pushing a bill to address the problem.
The reason catalytic converters are being stolen is because they contain many valuable and rare metals including platinum, palladium and rhodium.
"In Kansas City alone, between 2018 and 2019, there was a 400 percent increase in stolen catalytic converters," Mayhew said in an interview. "That lines up with the cost of the metals found in catalytic converters. I mean, rhodium is 10 times more expensive than even platinum."
Each converter that is stolen can be worth upwards of $800.
Mayhew said most people who are stealing these converters are those with drug-related problems.
"If you make it harder for them to sell catalytic converters, then it is harder to buy a stolen catalytic converter and so therefore you cut off the money supply to a lot of things that we don't like such as drugs," Mayhew said.
The Pulaski County Health Center and Home Health Agency in Crocker has had more than six catalytic converters stolen in 2020 and 2021. Each converter replacement has cost the center more than $5,000. Deborah Decker, the center's director, expressed her frustration that the nonprofit group has been targeted repeatedly.
"It really depended on the vehicles. The Dodge Caravan that we owned was completely totaled. Another, a Ford Fusion, was dismantled," Decker said. "It is extremely frustrating to be targeted. We are just trying to break even by the end of the year, and our mobile medical unit is meant to help people. But because it has been taken out of commission so many times, it limits where we can go."
If Mayhew's House Bill 2574 passes, auto shops, scrap metal dealers and others regulated by the state would have to require proof that those selling catalytic converters run bona fide repair shops or an affidavit that each converter was lawfully acquired.
Sellers of converters would have to keep the registration of the make, model, year and vehicle ID of where the converter originated from for four years.
Anyone who is caught stealing a stolen catalytic converter can already face a Class E felony charge.
Under the bill, those who lack proof the seller runs an auto repair shop or legally obtained the device would face a Class B misdemeanor and a revocation of their business license.