COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina House has approved a bill that would make buying or selling stolen catalytic converters a separate crime that could bring up to three years in prison.
The bill that passed 94-0 on Thursday was prompted by a rash of thefts of the emission control systems in vehicles that can cost thousands of dollars to fix.
Catalytic converters have several precious metals in them including palladium, platinum and rhodium. Unscrupulous scrap metal deals pay hundreds of dollars for them.
In the last six months of 2020, Lexington County deputies reported about 150 catalytic converter thefts, about triple the number from the same six months the year before.
A thief can saw off the converter from under a vehicle in minutes, leaving the owner with a repair bill of a few thousand dollars, authorities said.
The bill now heads to the state Senate.