With Catalytic Converter Theft Exploding, State Lawmakers Respond

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  • More than 50,000 catalytic converters were stolen from parked vehicles in the United States last year, a massive increase from 2020 (about 14,500) and 2019 (3,400).
  • The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) follows more than 150 legislative texts that have been enacted or are in some stage of review in state houses across the country.
  • A federal bill, the Bipartisan Auto Recycling Theft Prevention Act, or PART Actis also making its way to Congress.

    Across the country, state governments are trying to do something about the growing number of catalytic converter thefts. Responses often focus on redefining a converter’s status in legal terminology – for example, including converters on the list of “primary components” in Indiana – or imposing additional rules on those who may to buy or sell converters. For such a simple act of theft, the reaction is most certainly scattered, but national lawmakers in Washington, DC, are also talking about solutions.

    Just under 3,400 catalytic converters were stolen from cars in the United States in 2019, but that number quadrupled in 2020, when almost 14,500 were stolen. In 2021, more than 50,000 converters were stolen, according to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). As we recently reported, the converters of popular Ford F-Series trucks and Honda Accord sedans were the most common targets of catalyst theft.

    The rise in the number of stolen converters comes as the price to replace them has risen from $1,000 to around $3,000 in recent years, said NICB President and CEO David Glawe. BNC News.

    “Crime is business, and business is doing very well in this space,” he said. “There’s a lot of money to be made. And there’s very little deterrence.”

    A solution: put the VIN on it

    That might be about to change, if you take seriously all of the related legislation in the NCIB database that’s under consideration for 2022. Besides the 152 different state legislation that the NCIB tracks on its website , there is also a bipartisan bill currently being discussed in Congress. Called the Auto Recycling Theft Prevention Act (PART), the bill would codify federal penalties for anyone found guilty of stealing a converter. It would also establish federal rules on the traceability of catalytic converters by affixing VINs to them in new cars. The bill would also require people who buy and sell converters to keep records of those transactions.

    The NICB map of catalytic converter invoices is in preparation. Darker = more legislation.

    National Crime Insurance Bureau

    Of the 152 state laws, only 26 have been enacted. Most of the others are in the first “introduced or pre-filed” category, while some are seriously discussed in various committees. Some of the states that have recently enacted laws regarding converter theft include Connecticut and Mississippi.

    In Connecticut, it is now illegal for vehicle recyclers to acquire a converter that is not connected to a car, and recyclers must now keep written records of all transactions involving converters. Mississippi’s New Law increases fines for anyone caught stealing a converter and requires sellers to provide their personal ID and the VIN of the vehicle the converter came from in order to sell it. Buyers must also pay by check.

    Hawaii with 16, Minnesota (14) and California (11) are the three states considering the most converter theft laws. Many of the others are considering between one and half a dozen. According to the NICB, 13 states are not considering any type of legislation regarding catalytic converter theft. They are Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming.

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