We've told you about the epidemic of skyrocketing catalytic converted thefts across the nation. Catalytic converters are easy targets of thieves who steal them for their precious metals then sell them on the black market. They are also expensive to replace. Now, new legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to curb catalytic thefts in a number of ways.
Proposed U.S. Senate Bill To Combat Catalytic Converter Theft
The Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore). In a press release, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) applauds the bill's introduction, saying S. 5024 would help law enforcement combat catalytic converted thefts with a national framework that would:
- Mark catalytic converters
- Establish federal criminal penalties
- Create a more transparent market that deters its theft.
“Catalytic converter theft is out of control nationwide,” said NADA President and CEO Mike Stanton. “Because converters currently can’t be traced and laws are different from state to state, criminals see catalytic converter theft as easy money. This is a huge issue for dealerships and consumers alike. We thank Senators Klobuchar and Wyden for their leadership on the PART Act which will provide critical tools for law enforcement to help stem the skyrocketing rise of catalytic converter theft.”
Read about the recent takedown of a national multi-million dollar catalytic converter ring in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security press release →
NADA says catalytic converter thefts rose 326% in 2020, and another 353% last year. While catalytic converters are easy to steal, typically they're hard to track and trace to a specific car, and easily sold on the black market for between $200-$350. Since they don't really have ID marks on them, unless you have you VIN number etched into them, thefts are difficult to curb. NADA says replacing a converted can average over $2,500.
Here's a breakdown of the PART Act:
- It requires new vehicles to have unique, traceable identifying numbers stamped on catalytic converters at the time of assembly.
- The bill increases record keeping requirements for purchasers.
- It establishes a federal criminal penalty for the theft, sale, trafficking or known purchase of stolen catalytic converters of up to five years in jail.
“Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed nationwide since the pandemic began, and because these are property crimes, there is very little deterrent for the individuals committing these acts,” stated David Glawe, president and chief executive officer of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Congress must act to make stealing a catalytic converter a felony and introduce stiffer penalties to deter would-be criminals from committing these acts in the first place. Additionally, law enforcement needs the capability to track illegal sales in the secondary market.”
The proposed bill has widespread support. NADA says it's also been endorsed by the American Truck Dealers (ATD), American Trucking Associations (ATA), Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), National Auto Auction Association (NAAA), National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), National RV Dealers Association (RVDA), National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP), and NTEA — The Association for the Work Truck Industry.
In May, NADA says it was one of 15 organizations that sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) in support of the House bill, H.R. 6394.
In Texas, it's already a felony to steal, buy or sell stolen catalytic converters. In June 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4110 making such things a state felony offense. It's punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,00 fine. If the defendant has been previously convicted of catalytic converter theft in Texas, they face a third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
California legislators this year passed several laws to thwart converter thefts. Those laws were signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September and go into effect January 1, 2023. Read more here.