Catalytic converter theft has become a growing problem in Washington and too many Des Moines residents have been victims of this costly crime.

Recently, the Des Moines Public Safety Committee heard from several citizens – as well as the Des Moines Police Department – about how quickly the problem was growing and reached out to its local Legislative delegation to ask for assistance for the State to make it more difficult for thieves to sell catalytic converters.

Des Moines is fortunate that two of the four House members that represent portions of the city are also members of the Washington State House of Representatives Public Safety Committee. Rep. Jesse Johnson (30th District) is Vice-Chair of that Committee and Rep. Tina Orwall (33rd District) is an active member.

Des Moines reached out to its local members and worked particularly closely with Representative Johnson as a bill was drafted to help address this problem. That draft became HB-1815, and its co-sponsors included Johnson, Orwall and Rep. Mia Gregerson (33rd).

The bill’s prime sponsor is Cindy Ryu (32nd District).

HB-1815 was heard on January 18th in the House Public Safety Committee. It was then passed out of the Committee unanimously on Thursday, Jan. 27. 2022. Des Moines Mayor Matt Mahoney was one of two local government officials who testified to support this legislation on the 18th. The legislation seems to have wide support and is expected to advance further during the Legislature’s current 60-day session. After passing Committee today it must pass through the full House of Representatives by February 3rd.

Below is a transcript of Mahoney’s testimony:

Des Moines Mayor Matt Mahoney
Testimony – HB-1815 – Deterring Catalytic Converter Theft 18 January 2022
House Public Safety Committee
Via Zoom

“Chair Goodman and distinguished members of the House Public Safety Committee, I am Matt Mahoney, Mayor of the City of Des Moines.

“The City of Des Moines supports HB-1815. We thank you for considering this bill and especially thank our Representatives on this Committee – Representative Tina Orwall and Representative Jesse Johnson – for co-sponsoring the bill.

“I serve on Des Moines’ own Public Safety Committee and earlier this year we heard numerous resident complaints about the huge increase in catalytic converter theft. As in cities that each of you represent, catalytic converter theft is skyrocketing in Des Moines. In 2020 only 12 such thefts were reported in Des Moines. For 2021 we had 82 through October.

“This can be such a devastating problem for people and the cost of replacing the converter often means that older cars or vans are in effect ‘totaled’ by losing their catalytic converters. This loss can be devastating to individuals and groups who can least afford it. It is a huge destruction of societal wealth when a repair can cost $2,000 and while those that steal the converters are getting about one-tenth of that.

“We brought our concerns to Representative Jesse Johnson and we appreciate his thoughtful ideas and suggestions on how to shape legislation. We are so pleased that some of that dialogue has translated into the bill before you.

“This is an important issue and we thank you again for your leadership on this – and hope you can move this bill forward as quickly as possible.”