New York State Cracks Down on Increasing Catalytic Converter Thefts

New York State Cracks Down on Increasing Catalytic Converter Thefts

M.C. Millman 

As thefts of catalytic converters spike across the nation, new actions were announced by Governor Hochul to target unauthorized and illegal vehicle dismantlers. 

Catalytic converter theft has jumped more than 1,000% in just a few years. as the price of the precious metals in catalytic converters has soared, making catalytic converters more tempting to thieves.

"There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives these thefts," the National Insurance Crime Bureau states.

Thieves remove catalytic converters, an essential component of a vehicle's exhaust system, by cutting them away from beneath vehicles, including hybrids. Replacements can cost $2,000 to $3,000 and often include fixing a vehicle's undercarriage, fuel line, and electric lines.

New York State Police and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will leverage existing partnerships with local, state, and federal law enforcement to increase investigations and crackdowns in high-theft areas. Investigations often involved organized theft operations that cross state lines.

In New York City, the New York Police Department initially reported that catalytic converter thefts have almost quadrupled in 2022. There have been 5,548 catalytic converter thefts in the city as of August 14, compared to 1,505 thefts during the same period in 2021.

"There has been an uptick in catalytic converter thefts throughout the area," Ramapo Police Detective Lieutenant Chris Franklin shares with Rockland Daily. "They are being stolen from industrial areas and vehicles, as well as a few recently in residential areas."

"It's not just a problem elsewhere," Sheriff Lou Falco agrees. "It's also growing here in the Rockland."

On June 28, Meals on Wheels Rockland had catalytic converters stolen from seven of their 11 vehicles. The theft cost the non-profit thousands of dollars and took months to replace. Catalytic converters were stolen from other businesses in the area as well.

"We have been working diligently on several fronts to address this issue of catalytic converter thefts," says New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. "We are working closely with our partners in law enforcement and the auto dealership industry to address these thefts by distributing etching kits. We have held and will continue to hold press conferences across New York State to raise awareness among consumers and educate them on ways to safeguard their vehicles against these thefts."

The Catalytic Converter Theft Bill adds catalytic converters as a major component vehicle part to the Vehicle and Traffic Law. It will require vehicle dismantlers to maintain records and report the number of catalytic converters received every 60 days. It could include monetary penalties of up to double the amount made in taking in allegedly stolen converter components. Additionally, car dealers, who have been particularly hard hit by the thefts, will be required to stock catalytic converter etching kits for engraving unique serial numbers on the components. This will allow for tracking of stolen parts. 

On Monday, October 17, Governor Hochul also signed legislation imposing restrictions on purchasing, selling, and possessing catalytic converters by scrap processors and chop shops - vehicle dismantlers.

"Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed across our state and nation," says Governor Hochul, "and these comprehensive actions double down on our efforts to keep New Yorkers and their property safe, protecting our communities and cracking down on crime."

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