PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Catalytic converter thefts have been an issue in local communities recently and a new legislation is hoping to put a stop to it.

Rep. Joseph Solomon Jr. introduced a bill that would require the purchaser of a catalytic converter to obtain a copy of the registration for the vehicle from which it was removed and provide a copy to law enforcement.

“The perpetrators of this crime get pennies on the dollar for these converters while the cost of replacing them can be well over $1,000, especially if the car is damaged while criminals attempt to remove the converters quickly,” Solomon said.

“This legislation would put the burden of responsibility on those who are actually accepting the catalytic converters to make sure they’re coming from legitimate sources,” he continued. “It will hold those who receive the converters to a high standard so they exercise a little social responsibility when dealing with those selling converters.”

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that catalytic converter thefts have increased significantly across the country since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Donna Hassel Winter of Partner Hassel’s Garage tells 12 News stealing catalytic converters can be a quick way to make a profit, which is what makes the crime so appealing.

“They’re getting underneath the vehicle with a cordless Sawzall and they cut the converter out,” Hassel Winter explained. “The pipe in the front, the pipe in the back and they cut the oxygen sensor wires, so they’re in an out in less than a minute – it’s very quick.”

Hassel Winter said selling a catalytic converter legally nets roughly $100.

But on the black market, she said catalytic converters can go for double, and sometimes triple, that price.

“That’s why some of these are so expensive,” Hassel Winter explained. “You can slice it and pull the whole thing out.”

Catalytic converter thefts are also costly to repair, according to Hassel Winter.

“The whole system may need to be changed depending on how much is damaged,” she said.

Solomon explained that this is why it’s important now more than ever to ensure those who are stealing them are held responsible.

“Taking these converters really hurts the most vulnerable in our society — people going to work every day, single mothers living paycheck to paycheck who now have an additional huge expense they can’t afford,” Solomon said.