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Rep. Baird introduces bill to prevent catalytic converter thefts

Today, Rep. Jim Baird (IN-04) introduced the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act, which aims to reduce catalytic converter thefts by marking identifying information on catalytic converters, addressing how the parts are purchased, and strengthening enforceability of catalytic converter theft for local law enforcement officers.

“In West Central Indiana and across the country, catalytic converter theft has had a dramatic impact on vehicle and business owners, leading them to await costly repairs with few tools to prevent similar crimes in the future,” said Rep. Baird. “By closing long-exploited loopholes and strengthening law enforcement’s ability to locate stolen parts and enforce the law, we can create a safer environment for vehicle owners and put a stop to these crimes once and for all.”

“We are pleased to see Congress taking an active role in addressing this growing crime that impacts the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Americans across the country,” said David Glawe, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime. “Car thefts and other auto crimes like catalytic converter thefts have risen dramatically over the past two years and are at record highs. Vehicle owners pay a high price when a thief targets their catalytic converter, often incurring lost income from missing work, needing to find and pay for alternate transportation and then paying anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to get the vehicle fixed. This bill is a critical step in helping bring relief to the people most directly impacted by these crimes.”

“The MCCA thanks Rep. Baird for introducing the PART Act,” said Major Cities Chiefs Associations Executive Director Laura Cooper. “Over the past few years, major cities across the country have reported an increase in catalytic converter thefts. By updating federal law to account for this growing trend, the PART Act will create a powerful deterrent and help ensure those who buy and sell stolen catalytic convertors are held accountable. In addition, the provisions related to marking catalytic converters with unique identification numbers will support law enforcement’s efforts to solve these crimes as efficiently as possible when they do occur.”

“We applaud Representative Baird and his staff on introducing this bill,” said Brett Scott, Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.  “Catalytic converter crime is at an all-time high and this legislation is a great step toward addressing this issue. At the end of the day, these thefts only hurt consumers and their wallets.”

Background:

Catalytic converters are car parts used to reduce the potency of toxic emissions from an internal combustion engine and is a component required in compliance with the Clean Air Act.  These parts are constructed using precious metals such as rhodium, platinum, and palladium, and, depending on the price point for these metals, can be sold to scrap dealers for hundreds of dollars. Replacement of these parts can be very costly for vehicle owners, with many replacements ranging from $500 to $2,300. In some cases, the cost of a catalytic converter theft may even be enough for a total loss to a vehicle.

The theft of catalytic converters has become increasingly prevalent in the past two years, plaguing vehicle owners, scrap yards, and law enforcement officials in communities across the United States. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts rose from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 in 2020 – an increase of over 325%. Faced with this sharp increase, law enforcement officers have limited tools to curb thefts as current policy leaves many advantageous loopholes for criminals to exploit. A lack of criminal code in regard to the trafficking of these stolen parts means that law enforcement must catch a criminal in the act of removing the part in order to prosecute a case.

The PART Act seeks to reduce catalytic converter thefts by allowing law enforcement officers to link stolen parts to the vehicle from which they originate by requiring new vehicles to have a VIN number stamped onto the converter, creating a grant program through which entities can stamp VIN numbers onto catalytic converters of existing vehicles, improving record keeping standards for purchasers of used catalytic converters, and establishing enforceability of laws around catalytic converter theft by codifying these crimes as a criminal offense.