HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s now up to the governor to approve tougher laws against the theft of catalytic converters. Lawmakers approved a bill that will make it a felony not just to steal them but also to buy them without proper documentation.

The bill waiting for the governor’s approval makes it a Class C felony to steal a catalytic converter. The seller must also show ID and the buyer is required to take a picture of the seller and keep records of the transactions. Buyers who don’t follow these regulations can also be charged with a felony.

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“Any scrap dealer that’s above board now, they’re going to follow it because it’s just not worth it if they get caught doing something else,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rhoads said the bill is similar to the one passed more than 10 years ago that helped stop the wave of rising copper thefts. HPD was in favor of the proposal and sent testimony saying it will strongly discourage the thefts.

The testimony said, “It will make identifying those attempting to steal them easier and establish that the theft of these devices is a felony, further dissuading would-be criminals.”

Some auto mechanics said the bill probably won’t make that much of a difference. They said there will continue to be a black market that will give thieves the incentive to keep stealing catalytic converters.

Frank Young said many of the buyers are already documenting the transactions. He added that the reason copper thefts died down is because the price of copper came down, and stealing converters is more profitable.

“They’re easier to steal and they’re getting more money for them than the copper. Plus when you steal copper, sometimes you get electrocuted,” said Young.

Other law enforcement organizations also support the proposal. Rhoads said they can check on scrap dealers and recyclers to make sure they are complying with the law.

“They’re supposed to send the information to the police department,” said Rhoads. “The police departments are supposed to keep a database. But anytime that a prosecutor or the police or the Attorney General, any law enforcement authorities want to look at those records, they have a right to do so under the bill.”

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If the governor approves the proposal the new law will take effect in January.