Auto wreckers fear Washington state catalytic converter law will harm business

OLYMPIA, Wash. (KGW) — Legitimate business owners fear they will be hurt by a law targeting catalytic converter thieves.

Catalytic converters are car parts containing precious metals.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2020, the number of thefts across the country increased by 325% compared to 2019.

Washington state has been no exception, and lawmakers took notice, passing House Bill 1815 calling for a workgroup to study possible long-term solutions as well as banning the cash sale of catalytic converters starting July 1. Sellers can only be paid with checks three days after the initial sale under the law passed unanimously by legislators and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 30.

Jim King, a lobbyist for the Independent Business Association, said prohibiting the use of cash will hurt auto wreckers, who routinely pay cash for cars in transactions with private owners and during auctions.

RELATED: Scrap industry pushes back on legislation intended to curb catalytic converter theft in Washington

King tried getting the governor to veto the section prohibiting cash sales.

”It will reduce our ability to be in business,” said Bill Fazekas, owner of Black Lake Auto. “No doubt.”

Fazekas estimates he pays cash for 90% of the cars on his lot before draining them of fluids and selling individual parts.

Fazekas said moving to a check payment system, especially making clients wait three days, will send the sellers elsewhere.

Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, sponsored the part of the bill prohibiting cash transactions. He said the law is meant to focus on catalytic converters removed from original vehicles.

He did not think the new law would impact auto wreckers, but Wilson said he would be open to clarifying the law when lawmakers return to Olympia next January.

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