Bill named after slain Texas deputy becomes law, increasing penalties for catalytic converter thefts

The bill was named in honor of Deputy Darren Almendarez who was killed while trying to stop three men attempting to steal his vehicle’s catalytic converter

By Eleanor Dearman
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

AUSTIN, Texas — A new Texas law aims to curb catalytic converter thefts.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ceremonially signed a bill to increase penalties for the theft and unlawful possession of catalytic converters. It was one of eight public safety and criminal justice bills Abbott approved during the signing ceremony at the Texas Capitol.

“One thing we all agree upon is providing resources that will make our communities safer, as well as supporting our law enforcement in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

The catalytic converter bill is named the “Deputy Darren Almendarez Act” in honor of a Harris County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed while trying to stop three men accused of attempting to steal his vehicle’s catalytic converter while off-duty.

The car part is usually made of platinum, palladium and rhodium, making them a target for thieves wanting to sell the part.

The bill makes catalytic converter theft a state jail felony when the property is valued below $30,000, an offense that could land someone in jail for up to two years, according to an analysis of the bill. The penalty for the theft increases as the value of the stolen property increases.

Among other measures, it also creates a new criminal offense for the unauthorized possession of a catalytic converter and outlines record retention rules for sales, purchases and repairs related to the car part.

Other bills signed by Abbott during the ceremony include measures related to street racing and prosecutors who say they will not prosecute certain types of crimes. The governor also signed a bill increasing the penalty for assaulting hospital personnel. It was filed following a shooting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

©2023 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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