SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law to help prevent catalytic converter thefts. California far outranks all the other states when it comes to this crime, according to State Farm.
Catalytic converters are part of the exhaust system and help clean up all the pollution. It also contains valuable metals, and that’s what the thieves are going after.
One of the bills makes it illegal to buy a catalytic converter from anyone other than a licensed dealer or dismantler. The other requires buyers and sellers to keep detailed records of the converters.
It doesn’t take long to steal a catalytic converter
“They can take it in a minute or two,” Ace Auto Works’ Tommy Dao said
He said he get multiple calls a week from people offering to sell him used catalytic converters.
“I get maybe three or four phone calls a week for people selling me used cats,” he said.
Converters, he says he knows are stolen.
“They will say ‘Hey, you know, it's not stolen or whatever,’ but the chances are very high it is stolen,” he said.
Which is why he said he’s happy Governor Newsom signed two bills into law this weekend to address the rising issue.
“Those brokers and those middlemen who pay top dollar for stolen parts will now be illegal in California to buy catalytic converters from anyone other than licensed auto dismantlers or dealers," Newsom said in a video message. "And people who buy and sell these parts now have to keep detailed records, so we can better trace thefts.”
However, Dao still has questions about enforcement.
“I just want to know how they’re going to make it harder to punish them?" Dao said.
The bill language says a violation would be a misdemeanor.
- First violation: $1,000
- Second violation: $2,000
- Third violation: $4,000
A court can also order the business to stop engaging in recycling for a year.
“If they can't sell the used cat, they're not gonna steal the cat anymore,” Dao said.
Dao hopes it takes away the illicit market. If it works, he said car insurance rates will decrease.
“Because now the insurance will not have to replace that and it saves money for everybody," he said.
The bill goes into effect in January 2023.