Gone in 60 seconds.

Yes, it’s the name of an action movie starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.

But it’s also what can happen when thieves target your vehicle’s catalytic converter.

Now, however, police have another tool to prevent the thefts, which have exploded local and nationally.

And drivers can thank an area lawmaker for it.

In one of his last official acts in office, Gov. Charlie Baker last week signed a bill designed to curb the theft of catalytic converters by regulating the purchase of the automobile parts by scrap metal dealers.

The measure was sponsored by state Rep. Steve Howitt, a Republican from Seekonk who deserves praise for shepherding the bill through the Legislature on the final days of its session, when unanimous approval is required. Otherwise, the legislation would have had to start over from scratch this year.

Scrap metal buyers must now require proof of identification and a bill of sale or other document indicating ownership from sellers. The new law also requires buyers to keep records of all catalytic converter sales including the sellers’ name, address and license plate number.

The law is a response to a rise of thefts of the pollution-reduction devices in Massachusetts and across the country as the price of metals used in the devices has skyrocketed.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, claims for catalytic converter thefts grew from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 in 2020 and continued to rise during the pandemic. One insurer, State Farm, reported that in just the first half of 2022, it had received more than 23,000 catalytic converter theft claims nationally.

It’s certainly been happening locally. In August, for instance, over two dozen catalytic converters were cut and stolen from trucks parked at a water distribution business in the Norton Commerce Center.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum or rhodium. Due to the steep increase in the cost of precious metals, the average scrap price for catalytic converters has soared to over $2,000. And it’s relatively easy for criminals to pull off thefts; police say the part can be stolen in less than one minute.

The law, which has been enacted in at least 10 other states, aims to “protect (car owners’) vehicles and their pocketbooks,” Howitt said. The device can cost as much as $3,500 to replace, and many insurance companies only pay if the owner has comprehensive coverage.

The Legislature thought enough of the need for the bill that it approved the measure unanimously and attached an emergency preamble, meaning it takes effect immediately.

Howitt deserves a tip of the cap for his persistence on the bill. As he said last week after Baker signed the measure, “It was long overdue.”