OLYMPIA — Washington state is number one in the nation in catalytic converter theft, according to a new report on national crime statistics, and Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, says the Legislature must continue cracking down on the crime in the next legislative session.

“The statistics we just got from BeenVerified ought to shock all of us,” said Wilson in a release. “A 10,000% increase? Holy cow. That’s too big to ignore.”

Low risk, high reward: Catalytic converter thieves are cashing in and causing financial pain for car owners

The report from BeenVerified.com, a national statistical-analysis firm, indicates Washington has seen a 10,000% increase in catalytic converter theft since 2019, the press release states.

Wilson says he led efforts in the state Senate this year to pass a bill cracking down on catalytic converter theft. The resulting compromise, passed in the form of House Bill 1815, starts the job, but Wilson said it’s a long way from being finished.

“The resulting legislation was one of the most important bipartisan compromises of the 2022 legislative session,” said Wilson in the release. “Unfortunately, it got us only halfway there.”

Catalytic converters are easy pickings for thieves, but WA lawmakers aim to make thefts harder

Wilson said the legislation did not increase prison time or increase law enforcement funding but laid the foundation for an effective response to the fast-growing crime.

The release states this year’s legislation imposes strict requirements on scrapyards and wreckers that purchase used catalytic converters, to prevent them from entering legitimate retail channels. Among them, purchasers must check and record seller IDs and proof of ownership, and cash payments on the spot are prohibited. Violations are a misdemeanor, with a fine of $1,000 per converter.