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Washington sees largest catalytic converter theft increase in country

A report shows a 10,000% rise in converter thefts since 2019 in Washington.

SEATTLE — Vy Nguyen, who started out as a mechanic at Kellan Auto Repair five years ago, claims he's seen an increase in customers coming in with their catalytic converters stolen. What takes minutes to steal results in hours of work and a considerable price tag to replace. 

"Usually about one or two thousand. Some vehicles are more expensive," said Nguyen. 

If it feels like this is a growing problem in the state of Washington, a new report from the public data company BeenVerified confirms it is. 

"Since 2019, that three year timeframe, if you look at that, 10,000% percent different last year versus 2019. Just the thefts so far this year is more than 2019 and 2020 totaled together," said Kerry Sherin, who is a consumer advocate for BeenVerified.

In the last state legislative session,  a bill passed that requires scrap metal buyers to have more documentation when buying catalytic converters and created a taskforce to investigate the problem. State Sen. Jeff Wilson believes that isn't enough. 

"What we need is action and we need a direct plan to deal with these crimes," Wilson said. "This session I'm more than happy to reintroduce some tougher legislation."

While the legislature works to crack down on the issue, Nguyen explains that you can add a steel plate as a preventative.

"You can bolt it around the catalytic converter, that's the only prevention," Nguyen said.

Though it's a deterrent, thieves can cut through most of a car if they want to, but making it a bit harder for them can help. 

According to BeenVerified, June is the worst month for these types of thefts in Washington. 

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