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Governor cracks down on catalytic converter theft in New York

Governor puts forth Catalytic Converter Theft Bill requiring vehicle dismantlers to maintain records of the part

October 17, 2022 Daniel Cody
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Getting your catalytic converter stolen is an expensive and annoying tribulation. The converters are important components of the car that transform toxic gasses and pollutants into car exhaust, and without it, the car accelerates louder and expunges unfiltered fumes for passersby.

Catalytic converters take little time to steal, and with a plethora of chop shops willing to take the parts, a problem has evolved for commuters in Brooklyn and statewide.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a slew of new actions to combat catalytic converter theft across Long Island and the five boroughs Monday, targeting chop shops and other illegal vehicle dismantlers and regulating the purchase, sale and possession of catalytic converters by vehicle dismantlers and scrap processers.

“Fortunately, most people do not need to know what a catalytic converter is – unless you try driving a car and you do not have one,” said State Senator Diane Savino of northern Staten Island and Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach and Coney Island in Brooklyn.

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“What we are doing here is cracking down on catalytic converter thefts, requiring catalytic converters to be added to the list of component parts that have to be reported, and also imposing new controls on scrap metal dealers, scrap processors, and others, and itinerant dealers, so that we can get at this problem. Again, I thank the Governor and my colleagues for their leadership – this is a national problem, and I am proud New York is leading the way to prevent catalytic converter theft.”

State Sen. Diane Savino of northern Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of the Office of New York State Senator Diane J. Savino

In the city, the NYPD reported that catalytic converter thefts have quadrupled through 2022. As of Aug. 14, there were 5,548 documented catalytic converter thefts, in comparison to the 1,505 thefts during the same period in 2021. Catalytic converter thefts in Nassau County are up 246 percent and similarly in Suffolk County there have been more than three times as many catalytic converter thefts.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau – a nonprofit that tracks crimes reported to insurance companies – reported that the number of reported catalytic converter thefts increased from roughly 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021, an increase of roughly 1,215 percent from 2019.

The State Police and Department of Motor Vehicles are directed by the governor to utilize existing relationships with law enforcement to crackdown in areas where catalytic converter theft is concentrated. The governor has signed the Catalytic Converter Theft Bill, a new piece of legislation amending Vehicle and Traffic Law so that the converters are considered a major component vehicle part, requiring vehicle dismantlers – auto salvage, auto recycling and “wrecking” companies – to maintain records of all catalytic converters. Under the law, failure to maintain records, or failure to produce them, would result in a Class A misdemeanor including monetary penalties that can amount to double the profit made in taking in allegedly stolen converter components.

“We have been working diligently on several fronts to address this issue of catalytic converter thefts,” said Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul takes the stage at a gubernatorial forum hosted by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce in Rochester, Oct. 7. AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

“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.”

Qualified vehicle dealers will also be required to stock catalytic converter etching kits to assign each converter with a unique serial number so that the components can be tracked back if they are stolen.

“As a victim of catalytic converter theft right outside my home, I am proud to stand with Governor Hochul as she strengthens efforts to combat this issue,” said Eric Tenner of Huntington. “This swift action is exactly the kind of leadership we need, and I am grateful to all who had a hand in making today happen. Together we can help our communities feel safer and more secure”

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