Daytona, Florida (January 30, 2020) - According to a new report from News-journalonline.com, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office arrested five men involved with possessing and selling stolen catalytic converters in a recent undercover sting operation. The men were from all different cities throughout the State of Florida. According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the purpose of the recent catalytic converter sting operation was to help put a stop to the surge in catalytic converter thefts occurring throughout the State of Florida. Volusia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mr. Andrew Gant stated, in a press release from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, “The Sheriff’s Office alone has received reports of about 20 cases since mid-November.” Also, Mr. Gant stated that Central Florida has seen a ¨dramatic increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts.
According to news reports, buyers of catalytic converters would place online wanted ads looking to buy catalytic converters at a premium and for cash in order to attract sellers regardless of how the sellers acquired the catalytic converters. It is also alleged that the sellers would then resell the catalytic converters out of state at a higher resale price. Florida state law regulates the purchase and sale and of new and used catalytic converters. The advertisements also stated that the buyers would meet the sellers “in person” to conduct the private sale. The value of the black market ¨emissions control devices¨ can be found in the precious metals that may be recovered. These precious metals include palladium, platinum, and rhodium. It is estimated that the precious metals can bring approximately $200 per catalytic converter. SUVs are the typical target of thieves since the catalytic converters are larger, contain more precious metals and are easier to reach underneath the vehicle due to its higher ground clearance. A catalytic converter can be dismantled within a few minutes and without setting off a car alarm making this an easy target for thieves.
Florida's Catalytic Convert Laws
Florida Statute 316.29351 ¨Air pollution control equipment; tampering prohibited; penalty¨ states that it is against the law for an individual or an auto sales dealer to sell, transfer ownership, dismantle or remove any air pollution control device or system.¨ This includes catalytic converters found on any motor vehicle. There are some exceptions for special licensed dealers, manufacturers and repair shops. In addition, there are Federal laws that prohibit the removal and unauthorized sale of catalytic converters. Federal fines can reach as much as $2,500 per catalytic converter. In recent news, these fines have exceeded 100s of thousands of dollars. Catalytic converter laws are also enforced by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, local and state law enforcement. A first-time offense is a second-degree misdemeanor in the State of Florida. However, there may be other charges or circumstances which could enhance the charges to a felony charge which brings stiffer penalties and mandatory prison sentencing if found guilty.