Jones introduces measure to crackdown on catalytic converter theft in California

Supply chain snags, high cost of precious metals leads to increasing thefts with few arrests or prosecutions

Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) today introduced a measure to crackdown on the growing crime of catalytic converter theft in California.

“The crime of stealing catalytic converters in California has skyrocketed in the last several months,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. “Unfortunately, unless some changes in the law are made it will only get worse. Thieves often face few risks in getting caught or prosecuted, yet the car or truck owner faces thousands of dollars in repairs and the inability to use their vehicle for days or weeks while it’s being repaired. My bill will help discourage, prevent, and prosecute the growing crime of catalytic converter theft in California.”

Jones’s Senate Bill 919 would attack the crime of catalytic converter theft in distinct three ways:

  • New and used motor vehicle dealers would be required to permanently mark the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the catalytic converter of any vehicle before they sell it – this will create a way to identify the catalytic converter if it is illegally removed from the vehicle;
  • Metal recyclers would only be allowed to buy catalytic converters that have a clearly visible and untampered VIN on it, and they would have to keep detailed records of who sold them each specific catalytic converter and make those records accessible to law enforcement – this will discourage the current loose practice of selling and buying catalytic converters and cut off the “easy money” thieves currently make;
  • Thieves of catalytic converters should already face potential jail time and fines but under current law it’s tough to track and prosecute them. This measure will require sales documentation and a VIN on the catalytic converters as well as increasing fines – this will help discourage the theft from occurring in the first place and provide easier arrests and prosecution if theft still happens.

SB 919 is sponsored by the Chula Vista Police Department and is currently in the Senate Committee on Rules awaiting assignment to a policy committee for hearing.

“I'm so grateful to Senator Jones and his office for backing this bill to combat catalytic converter theft, an issue that has impacted countless victims,” stated Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy. “This legislation is critical to protecting the property interests of our community and beyond.”

A catalytic converter is a smog-control device on a motor vehicle that can be stolen in less than two minutes as shown in this ABC 30 news story. Stolen catalytic converters can bring the thief up to $250, yet cost the motorist up to $4,000 to replace according to the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).  The BAR report also states, “Theft of an under-vehicle converter takes only minutes with basic tools such as a pipe wrench or cordless Sawzall.” California is the number one state for catalytic converter thefts according to a recent report on

Click here to view the specific language of SB 919.