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SANTEE, Calif. (CNS) – Sen. Brian W. Jones, R-Santee, Thursday introduced a measure intended to crackdown what he describes as increasing catalytic converter theft in California.

State Senator Brian Jones. (State of California)

“The crime of stealing catalytic converters in California has skyrocketed in the last several months,” Jones said. “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,” he said. “My bill will help discourage, prevent and prosecute the growing crime of catalytic converter theft in California.”

Senate Bill 919 would focus on the crime of catalytic converter theft in three ways:

  • New and used motor vehicle dealers would be required to permanently mark the Vehicle Identification Number on the catalytic converter of any vehicle before they sell it;
  • 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; and
  • The bill will require sales documentation and a VIN on the catalytic converters as well as increasing fines, intended to discourage theft.

A catalytic converter is a smog-control device on a motor vehicle. Stolen catalytic converters can bring the thief up to $250, yet cost the motorist up to $4,000 to replace, according to a report by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

“Theft of an under-vehicle converter takes only minutes with basic tools such as a pipe wrench or cordless Sawzall,” the report reads.

As of Dec. 2021 in San Diego County, the number of catalytic converter thefts jumped 423% compared to the previous year.

“When the car thief crawls under your car to steal your catalytic converter they don’t really ask if you’re a Republican or Democrat, or even if you’re registered to vote,” Jones said. “This is very much a nonpartisan issue. I’m hoping that I can get cooperation from all of my colleagues and get a pass.”

According to a recent report on Jones cited, California is the number one state for catalytic converter thefts.

SB 919 is sponsored by the Chula Vista Police Department and is 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,” said Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy. “This legislation is critical to protecting the property interests of our community and beyond.”

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

FOX 5’s Kasia Gregorczyk contributed to this report.