RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Earlier this year, a new Virginia law made for harsher penalties against those convicted of catalytic converter theft. Local law enforcement say they are seeing positive results.
In July, a new state law went into effect that made catalytic converter theft a class 6 felony. This meant that anyone found in possession of a catalytic converter without proof of where it came from or who sold it to them could be charged, and face anywhere from one to five years in prison.
Now, multiple local law enforcement agencies are reporting that they have seen a decrease in catalytic converter thefts.
The latest crime statistics from the Richmond Police Department show there were 829 thefts involving motor vehicle parts between Jan. 1, 2022, and Nov. 5, 2022. This year, there have only been 379 reported thefts in the same amount of time.
In Chesterfield County, police reported there were 312 incidents of stolen catalytic converters in 2022 between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31. In that same timeframe in 2023, there were only 103 incidents.
In Henrico County, there were 536 reported catalytic converter thefts that occurred between Jan. 1, 2022, and Nov. 6, 2022. In 2023, there have only been 190 reported incidents as of Nov. 6.
“The decrease in catalytic converter thefts is a result of the new legislation making unauthorized possession of converters a Class 6 Felony and a decrease in the trade-in value of precious metals,” a spokesperson with the Henrico County Police Division said.
In Hanover County, there were 63 reported catalytic converter thefts between Jan. 1, 2022, and Oct. 31, 2022. This year, there were only 46 incidents in that time.
“Almost all of these thefts occurred in the first six months of this year and then there has been a sharp drop off since,” a spokesperson with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said.