New California bill would crack down on catalytic converter theft

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A new bill introduced in the California State Senate hopes to curb the upsurge in catalytic converter thefts in California — a phenomenon that has become increasingly common in the Bay Area and across the state.

The bill in question is California Senate Bill 919, introduced last month by Republican state Senator Brian Jones, who represents much of San Diego County. At a Friday press conference outside a San Diego auto repair shop, employees showed how easily and quickly the car’s key component – which controls the release of exhaust gases engine – could be stolen. Some were cut in seconds.

“Our legislation will go a long way to preventing these thefts from happening by increasing the risk of getting caught and reducing options for illegal sales,” Jones said in a statement.

The legislation is among the first in the nation to specifically target catalytic converter theft, though similar, more piecemeal bills were introduced in the California State Assembly and Senate earlier this year.


There are three key provisions in SB919, all of which target distinct pressure points in the illicit trade in catalytic converters. The first would require car dealerships to “permanently mark a vehicle’s catalytic converter with the vehicle identification number” assigned to the car to make it easier to identify a converter.

The second would require scrap recyclers to buy catalytic converters with “a clear, untampered VIN” – and keep tabs on who they buy those parts from. Recyclers will also be required to share these records with law enforcement. The third would further punish people who have bought, sold or are in possession of a catalytic converter.

Last year, nearly 1,000 allegedly stolen catalytic converters were recovered in San Jose; 15 people have been arrested in connection with the alleged thefts.

This bill is due to be heard in committee on April 4.

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