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New S.C. law combats catalytic converter thefts

Investigators report a surge in catalytic converter thefts in recent months.
Investigators report a surge in catalytic converter thefts in recent months.(WKYT)
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 4:14 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County had 663 catalytic converters stolen in 2020, a major spike that has law enforcement concerned.

For several years, catalytic converter thefts were growing more prevalent in South Carolina.

A new bill to stop the thefts was introduced March 2. Gov. Henry McMaster signed it into law May 18.

The law passed unanimously in both chambers.

“This was a major problem in Richland County and throughout the state,” said Sheriff Leon Lott. “They’re precious metals inside, people, they take them out and sell them.”

Catalytic converters can sell up to $400 apiece and can cost up to $5,000 to replace.

The new law does not allow someone to have a catalytic converter in their possession without the proper documentation showing proof of ownership.

Additionally, secondary metal recyclers are required to confirm if the person selling the used, detached catalytic converter acquired it legally and has the right to transfer or sell it.

Law enforcement will continue to monitor the situation and discipline offenders as necessary, the sheriff said.

“It’s up to three years for first offense and five (years) for second,” said Lott.

Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, supported the legislation.

“It’s a felony,” he said. “We are now going to be able to turn the corner.”

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