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New law takes aim at catalytic converter thieves with mandatory prison sentences

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Posted at 1:11 PM, Jun 02, 2022

Gov. Edwards signed a bill into law this week that takes aim at people who steal catalytic converters - and those who purchase them from the thieves.

SB 70, authored by state Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, adds mandatory minimum prison sentences to current law, and requires businesses that purchase catalytic converters to register with local law enforcement.

The bill received final passage in May, and takes effect August 1 now that the Governor has signed it into law.

The mandatory minimum prison sentences range from 90 days to 10 years in prison.

If the damage to the vehicle from which the converter was removed exceeds $25,000 the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

When the damage is $5,000 to $25,000 the mandatory minimum sentence is five years in jail, with a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

If the damage is $1,000 to $5,000 the mandatory minimum sentence is two years in jail, with a maximum sentence of five years in jail and $3,000 in fines.

And, if the damage is less than $1,000 the mandatory minimum sentence is 90 days in jail with a maximum sentence of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

If someone is convicted of catalytic converter theft two times, there's a mandatory year added to their sentence, and it must be served consecutive to any other sentence - meaning the main sentence must be completed before the clock starts on that extra year. The law also adds the option of another $1,000 fine.

The law says the court must look at the combined value of damages done to determine the sentence; in other words if multiple catalytic converters are stolen, the value of all the damage must be added up to determine which sentence the person gets.

For people who purchase catalytic converters, there's now a registration requirement.

"...any person, firm, corporation, or entity engaged in the business of buying or selling unattached catalytic converters or engine control modules as a single item and not as part of a scrapped motor vehicle shall register with the chief of police and sheriff of each city and parish in which the business is conducted," the law states.

If you'd like to read it for yourself, click here.