Senator Jones, District Attorney Stephan and Police Chief Kennedy view catalytic converter theft demonstration and discuss prevention legislation

Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy held a press conference this morning in which they viewed a demonstration of how quickly and easily catalytic converters can be stolen and pending legislation to help prevent those thefts.

The press conference was held at Barrio Auto Service, located at 2490 Commercial Street, in San Diego, and employees of the repair shop showed the assembled community leaders and members of the media just how quickly the theft of a catalytic converter can occur.

“Two, three, maybe four minutes, and there goes your vehicle’s catalytic converter off with the thief to be fenced for a quick few hundred bucks,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones.  “The cost to the vehicle owner however can be thousands of dollars in parts and repair costs, not to mention other expenses such as missed time from work or arranging for alternate transportation.  Our legislation will go a long way to help prevent these thefts from occurring by increasing the risk of getting caught and narrowing the options for illegal sales.”

Specifically, Jones’s Senate Bill 919 will combat the theft of catalytic converters in three ways:

  1. Identification – the dealers of all new and used cars in California will be required to permanently mark a vehicle’s catalytic converter with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) already assigned to the car or truck.  This will make tracking and identifying stolen catalytic converters easier;
  2. Recycling – metal recyclers would only be allowed to buy catalytic converters that have a clear and untampered VIN on it, and keep detailed records of who sold them the converter.  These records would be accessible to law enforcement which will help cut of the current loose practice of selling and buying catalytic stolen converters; and
  3. Punishment – while some potential jail time and fines are already in current law, those fines would be raised further increasing the risk of buying, selling or possessing a stolen catalytic converter, thus discouraging many of those thefts in the first place.

The theft of catalytic converters is drastically increasing throughout the country as a result of the rising cost of precious metals and the effect of supply chain problems on the availability of replacement catalytic converters.  More catalytic converters were stolen in California last year (18,000) than in any other state, and thefts in California account for 30% of the related insurance claims in the nation.

SB 919 is set to be heard on April 4th by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.  SB 919 is sponsored by the Chula Vista Police Department and is supported by the San Diego County District Attorney.