House passes ‘chop shop’ bill

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SANTA FE, N.M. — A bill to curb car theft cleared the House Thursday afternoon. House Bill 69 will now head over to the Senate.

"This may be one of the most impactful policy bills we do in this session to really crack down on organized chop shop crimes, as well as the phenomena of metal theft causing massive amounts of criminal damage," said state Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque.

The bill makes it a third-degree felony to run a chop shop. Chop shops are where stolen cars are stripped for parts.

The bill’s supporters said chop shops fuel car theft and this bill would also make it a crime to steal regulated materials like copper, aluminum and catalytic converters. If more than $2,500 worth of parts is stolen, it becomes a fourth-degree felony.

During the floor debate, state Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, tried to tack on his crime bill targeting organized retail theft, but the House voted it down.

"I was hoping that we would send a strong message that this is a session where we’re going to deal with criminal activity, that we’re going to support our constituents in making their activities at a store safe, to go and shop and support our business owners," Rehm said. "Unfortunately, this is just going to help embolden the criminals and it is going to continue."

Track HB 69 during the legislative session.