As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, companies like PGM of Texas, who are committed to the ethical sourcing of catalytic converters, are especially thankful to see the Texas legislature rolling up its sleeves and taking the fight to the saw-wielding thieves who have been leaving families and businesses without reliable transportation. We’re impressed with the thoughtful approach from Senators Whitmire and Alvarado in their introduction of SB 224, a bill designed to address catalytic converter theft by, among other things, equipping prosecutors to put catalytic converter thieves where they belong: in jail.
As precious metals recyclers, we are dedicated to the efficient reclamation of the platinum group metals (or PGMs, which include platinum, palladium and rhodium) that play a vital role in scrubbing contaminants from car exhaust. Originating in places like Russia and South Africa, the metals we recycle stay in the circular economy, where they’re reused for pollution control, utilized in medical treatments, and so on.
As a company who has recycled catalytic converters for decades, we’ve been shocked and dismayed to see the recent surge of thefts and their impact on families, businesses and, worse, law enforcement officers who have been killed or wounded by thieves.
One of those fallen officers is the namesake of the bill filed by Senators Whitmire and Alvarado. The “Deputy Darren Almendarez Act,” is named for the brave Houston-area peace officer who was shot and killed when he encountered a converter theft in progress on his vehicle. This first draft of the bill shows that our leaders understand the severity of the threat facing vehicle owners across our state and nation and the fact that the rise in thefts has been driven by organized criminal elements. As the conversation unfolds during the 2023 legislative session, we hope that legislators will focus on the aspects of current laws that allow thieves to be back on the street the day after they get arrested.
The key points of focus should include:
- Arming prosecutors with stiffer penalties for catalytic converter theft.
- Funding police departments to create specialized task forces.
- Standardizing licenses and documentation standards for legitimate businesses in the recycling stream to avoid confusion across jurisdictions.
- Applying RICO statutes to disrupt organized criminal activity.
We are confident that our state’s leaders in the legislature and law enforcement have been doing their due diligence on these issues and will make progress on behalf of Texas vehicle owners. We will certainly keep working closely with them to ensure the solutions are sensible and enforceable.
When the day comes that the consequences for catalytic converter theft make people’s vehicles safe again, we can all be even more thankful for the exceptional leadership in Austin.