Legislation by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) to crackdown on the growing crime of catalytic converter theft was approved unanimously by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.
“Catalytic converter theft in California continues to rise,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. “There are few risks of getting caught or prosecuted so there is very little to deter these thieves. Senate Bill 919 will help change that by assisting in the tracking and identifying of any stolen catalytic converters, and allowing authorities to go after the thieves and the persons who fence the stolen converters. I appreciate the bipartisan support from my colleagues on the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.”
Specifically, 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 them, 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 increase fines on thieves – this will help discourage the theft from occurring in the first place.
“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.” More catalytic converter thefts happen in California than any other state according to a recent report on Investopedia.com.
Click here to view videos of Senator Jones showing how easy it is to steal and fence catalytic converters.
Click here to view a story in the San Diego Union Tribune about SB 919.
Click here to view the language of SB 919.
SB 919 is sponsored by the Chula Vista Police Department and supported by the San Diego County District Attorney, the California District Attorneys Association, and the Personal Insurance Federation of California. The measure will now go to the Senate Public Safety Committee.