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Catalytic converter theft – an offense more serious than regular theft

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

There’s more to car theft than just stealing the vehicles or any possessions left inside an automobile. Some individuals may instead target the vehicle’s parts, such as its catalytic converter.

Stealing a motor vehicle’s catalytic converter in Missouri is a serious crime. Severe fines and imprisonment – the levels of which are higher than the punishments for simple theft – await those convicted of the offense.

Why do thieves target catalytic converters?

It might seem like a random part to steal from a vehicle, but thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious rare metals such as palladium, platinum and rhodium. While the parts only have several grams of each metal, thieves can resell them on the secondary market for hundreds of dollars.

State law on catalytic converter theft

Typically, theft offenses start as misdemeanors, with the criminal degree increasing based on the value of the items stolen. However, according to Missouri law, the offense of stealing a catalytic converter is a Class E felony.

By comparison, a person normally faces a Class E felony charge for theft if they have three separate and earlier convictions for theft-related offenses.

The penalties

If a court convicts a person of stealing a catalytic converter, they potentially face up to four years of prison and $10,000 in fines. The court may also order the offender to pay restitution to the vehicle owner.

Additional charges for theft

Aside from the primary offense of theft, an offender accused of catalytic converter theft may face added charges. These include:

  • Criminal damage: A person can face this charge if their theft offense damaged the vehicle.
  • Trespassing: Illegally entering another person’s property to steal a catalytic converter can lead to this charge.
  • Possession of burglary tools: Possessing tools used in stealing catalytic converters, such as wrenches and saws, is also a punishable offense.

Each of these charges carries its own set of penalties, which can compound the seriousness of the situation for the accused.

If you’re facing charges for catalytic converter theft in Missouri, it’s crucial to understand the legal implications. A criminal defense attorney may be able to guide you through the complex court hearing process and advise you of your rights.