New vehicles will now be required to have their VIN stamped on the oft-stolen component.
Lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would help fight the scourge of catalytic converter thefts that continue to plague motorists across the country, reports Automotive News.
The Preventing Auto Recycling Theft Act (PART) will require all new vehicles to have their VIN stamped onto the converter. This would make it more difficult for criminals to sell stolen parts and also allow law enforcement to link the parts with the original vehicle.
PART would also see the creation of a grant that would allow entities like repair shops and dealers to stamp VINs onto older vehicles with catalytic converters. Most importantly, the Act would also create federal criminal penalties related to the theft, trafficking, sale, or known purchase of these stolen components.
Catalytic converter theft has been on the rise since last year. Opportunistic criminals target the component as it is easy to steal and then sell, but also because it contains precious metals like palladium and platinum.
"Across the country, millions of Americans are faced with costly repairs to their vehicles thanks to skyrocketing rates of catalytic converter thefts," said Representative Jim Baird in a statement. "Last Congress, I was proud to introduce the PART Act because I recognized the impactful financial consequences these all-too-common thefts have had on Americans and business owners, and I want to empower our law enforcement to hold these thieves accountable."
California implemented laws last year to prevent catalytic converter thefts from occurring. Governor Gavin Newsom announced in September that businesses would have to maintain strict records surrounding the pricey component.
"It will be illegal in California to buy catalytic converters from anyone other than licensed auto dismantlers or dealers," added Newsom at the time.
While criminals can make a quick buck, victims are often stuck with a ridiculously high repair bill. A resident at an old-age community was quoted an eye-watering $4,000 to replace the catalytic converter on her Jeep Liberty.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), 14,433 cats were stolen in the US in 2020. It's rising swiftly as, just two years before that, a mere 1,298 instances of catalytic converter theft were reported. "We have seen a dramatic 1,215% increase in catalytic converter thefts nationwide since the pandemic began. It is an issue that is plaguing the United States, and law enforcement needs additional support to put a stop to it," said NICB CEO David Glawe.
Law enforcement has made several large busts in the past year and broken up a spate of large catalytic converter crime rings. One organization alone was responsible for stealing 44,000 units worth a staggering $22 million. In the same month, Texas police found $12 million worth of catalytic converters stashed across seven locations.
Manufacturers are also looking at ways to prevent this problem. The new Toyota Prius, for example, can be specified with a MillerCAT theft prevention device. At $140, it's a lot cheaper than replacing your stolen cat. The metal shield may not fully protect the desirable component, but it makes the job of stealing it a lot tougher than before.
Hopefully, the PART Act and other mitigating efforts will bring an end to this trend, and motorists can go back to not worrying about their vehicle parts being stolen overnight.
Join The Discussion