Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Sunday that he had signed legislation to crack down on rampant theft of catalytic converters from vehicles by prohibiting recyclers from purchasing the valuable car part from anyone other than the legal owner or an authorized dealer.
Legislators this year introduced a sequence of invoices to deal with an alarming increase in brazen thefts of catalytic converters, car emission control devices that contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium. Often-missing parts are easy to saw off a vehicle, making them an attractive target for those hoping to make a quick buck at a scrap yard.
The two new laws — Senate Bill 1087by State Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), and Assembly Bill 1740by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates) — will increase penalties for buyers who do not certify that a catalytic converter has not been stolen.
The laws should make it harder for thieves to find a market for the parts. Scrap metal recyclers and junk dealers will need to document how they purchase catalytic converters and from whom to ensure they are dealing only with qualified owners and sellers.
“We are going to tackle the root cause, at least one of the root causes, in this crime. And it is these brokers and intermediaries, who pay top dollar for the stolen coins. It will now be illegal in California to purchase catalytic converters from anyone other than authorized car dismantlers or dealers,” Newsom said in a statement. video statement. “You take away the stolen goods market, you can help reduce theft.”
States across the country have introduced new policies to combat the growing popularity of catalytic converter theft, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic when car use declined and the value of certain metals rose.
The National Crime Insurance Bureau reported an increase from 1,298 catalytic converter flights in 2018 to 14,433 in 2020. California reported 18,026 thefts of catalytic converters in 2021according to background check company BeenVerified.
A stolen catalytic converter can generate $25 to $500, according to a 2021 Congressional Research Service report, and could cost its owner dearly $3,000 to replace the part. From most targeted vehicle types and models are the Ford F-Series, Honda Accords and Toyota Priuses.
The new laws will require a traceable method of payment for catalytic converters and stricter record keeping of purchases, including detailed information about the companies selling the parts and the vehicles they come from.