Legislation by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) to crackdown on the growing crime of catalytic converter theft was defeated in the Senate Public Safety Committee.
“Our comprehensive approach to deter, track, and prosecute catalytic converter theft unfortunately was not approved by the Public Safety Committee,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. “However, I am pleased that our bill did continue the discussion in the Legislature about catalytic converter theft and led to other measures being introduced and considered. I will review some of the many other less comprehensive measures that are currently still moving through the legislative process and see if any are worth supporting. I am not done working to curb this problem.”
Specifically, Jones’s Senate Bill 919 would have attacked the crime of catalytic converter theft in three distinct 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 would have created 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 would have discouraged 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 it is difficult under current law to track and prosecute them. This measure would increase fines on thieves – this would have helped 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 an emissions 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 in 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 was sponsored by the Chula Vista Police Department and supported by the San Diego County District Attorney, the California District Attorneys Association, the Personal Insurance Federation of California, the El Cajon Police Department, the City of Oceanside, and the City of Buena Park.
The measure died on a 2-0 vote in the Senate Public Safety Committee with Democrat Chair Steven Bradford and Republican Vice-Chair Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh voting in favor while Democrats Sydney Kamlager, Nancy Skinner, and Scott Wiener did not vote.