SAN DIEGO — Two new bills signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom hope to put a stop to catalytic converter thefts in the Golden State.
The bills make it illegal for anyone to buy a catalytic converter from anyone other than “licensed auto dismantlers or dealers.”
Newsom said these bills help to put a stop to one of the root causes of the problem:
The bills also require businesses who buy catalytic converters to keep a detailed record. If people do not comply, they could face a find of up to $1,000 for their first offense, and could have their business license suspended.
According to Carfax, reported catalytic converter thefts had a 1,215% increase, from 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021.
The staggering data is also seen across San Diego County.
“In 2021 we had 170 reported thefts, this year as of about a week ago, we are at about 125 thefts,” Oceanside Police Department Sgt. Anthony Molina said. He said in 2018, they only had one reported catalytic converter theft.
Tom Stanley, the owner of Standard Auto Recycling in Chula Vista and president of the San Diego County Auto Recycler’s Association said he is already cautious of suspicious sellers looking to make a quick profit and hopes other buyers also vet the sellers of catalytic converters.
Dennis Allen opened Allen’s Wrench in San Marcos thirty years ago and said recently he’s replaced multiple catalytic converters in one day, something he’s never seen before.
“It’s a problem that needs to be solved,” Dennis Allen said. “It’s getting to the point where people are actually scared to park their car.”
There’s hope locally the new laws can stop the thefts, but there is also hesitation.
“It’s fantastic that we’re moving in that direction and now there’s legislation that’s going to help combat this crime. We just want to see those efforts continue and help support law enforcement so that we can prosecute these criminals and help out these victims,” Oceanside Police Department Public Information Officer Jennifer Atenza said. “Over the last several years we’ve seen dramatic increase in catalytic converter thefts.”
“It can have an affect if they can have the resources to back up enforcement, until someone gets handcuffed and thrown in jail for it, and held there and penalized, its not going to stop,” Stanley said.
Since converters aren’t traceable, both the Oceanside and Chula Vista Police Department have hosted Vin number etching events to help.
“We are putting VIN numbers that are associated with the vehicles that the catalytic converter is on we are putting those right on, and then on top of that we are marking it with a highly visible paint,” Sgt Molina said.
“Having that serial number on the converter is so helpful because it helps our detectives identify victims,” Artenza said.
Cars Most Likely to Have Their Catalytic Converters Stolen Nationwide, according to Carfax.
- 1985-2021 Ford F-Series
- 1989-2020 Honda Accord
- 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
- 1990-2022 Ford Econoline
- 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado
- 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox
- 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
- 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
- 2011-17 Chrysler 200
- 2001-21 Toyota Prius