Catalytic converter thefts have become an increasingly popular way to make money for those not concerned with breaking the law. That’s why states across the country are taking action to try to curb this trend.

This summer, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that increases criminal penalties for those convicted of stealing catalytic converters and also for possessing stolen ones. The law is named for a Harris County deputy who was shot to death last year while off duty as he confronted several men who were allegedly stealing his truck’s catalytic converter.

Catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, help minimize the dangerous pollutants released into the air by gas-powered vehicles. Their value depends on the metal they’re made from, typically platinum, rhodium or palladium, and their age and condition. 

What does the new law do?

The new law makes catalytic converter theft a state jail felony punishable by up to two years behind bars if it’s valued at under $30,000. If it’s worth that or more, the penalties increase with the value (as is generally the case with theft crimes). 

The law also allows prosecutors to consider catalytic converter theft an organized crime. Further, it creates a new offense, which is unauthorized possession of a catalytic converter and places stricter record-keeping requirements on those who sell and install this equipment.

Stealing catalytic converters can be a profitable “business.” That means the stakes are high. Beyond the harsher penalties you can now face if you’re accused of catalytic converter theft, there’s always the danger that something could go wrong, and things could turn violent. That means facing even more severe charges and consequences.

If you’ve been arrested for this crime, it’s imperative that you take the matter seriously. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible will help you protect your rights and determine the best option for dealing with the charge.