LA Times: It just got harder in California to steal and then sell catalytic converters

September 25, 2022


Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Sunday that he signed legislation to crack down on rampant vehicle catalytic converter theft by making it illegal for recyclers to buy the valuable car part from anyone other than the legal owner or a licensed dealer.

Lawmakers this year introduced a suite of bills to address an alarming increase in brazen thefts of catalytic converters, the anti-pollution devices in cars that contain valuable metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium. The often untraceable parts are easy to saw off from a vehicle, making them an attractive target for those hoping to make a quick buck at a scrap yard.

The two new laws — Senate Bill 1087, by state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), and Assembly Bill 1740, by Assembly member Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates) — will increase penalties for buyers who fail to certify that a catalytic converter wasn’t stolen.

The laws should make it more difficult for thieves to find a marketplace for the parts. Scrap metal recyclers and junk dealers will have to document how they are buying catalytic converters and from whom, as a way to ensure they’re doing business only with owners and qualified sellers.

“We’re going to get to the root cause, at least one of the root causes, in this crime. And that’s those brokers and those middlemen, who pay top dollar for stolen parts. It will now be illegal in California to buy catalytic converters from anyone other than licensed auto dismantlers or dealers,” Newsom said in a video statement. “You take away the market for stolen goods, you can help cut down on stealing.”

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