Despite New Laws, Converter Thefts Still Epidemic in WA
Moses Lake PD reports apprehending two catalytic converter theft suspects in the last four days this week, dating back into the weekend.
A suspect was caught Tuesday trying to steal a converter off a truck
The MLPD reported Tuesday that while conducting extra patrols, they came across a suspect early Tuesday morning in the downtown area of Moses Lake attempting to remove a converter.
Officers say Kurtis Larson-Tungate, 39 was apprehended, a second suspect ran off and got away. The search for them continues. Moses Lake Police say converter theft has "reached epidemic levels" and is forcing the department to allocate additional resources to try to curb the problem.
This is despite new laws that were signed July 1st, 2022 by Gov. Inslee. GOP legislators pushed through a bill with unanimous bi-partisan support that puts more restrictions on wrecking and scrap yards over the purchase of converters.
According to KING-5 TV and other sources, the new laws required scrap and wrecking yards as well as metal recyclers to keep written records of transactions involving converters. It also required payment for them to be done with a traceable source such as a check, as opposed to cash.
It was believed these restrictions would curb converter theft because suspects would have a much harder time selling them and getting cash.
The KING-5 article referenced how this will affect what one business owner called "honest" wrecking yards, but it is possible some businesses are not yet keeping the required records, or not logging them.
According to a State Farm Insurance survey from 2021-22, Washington State ranked fourth in the nation in converter theft, and Oregon was 6th. CA was the highest in the nation. These figures are based upon reported incidents, WA state had 2390, OR 1643, while CA reported 10,577 such thefts.
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