November 21, 2022 12:51 PM, EST

Senate Bill Targets Catalytic Converters

catalytic converterNongAsimo/Getty Images

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Legislation targeting the theft and trafficking of catalytic converters was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Sponsored by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ron Wyden of Oregon, the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act, would require catalytic converters to be marked with identification numbers on most vehicles.

The bill’s aim is to assist law enforcement nationwide tasked with responding to the thefts of such devices.

“Throughout the country, we’ve seen an alarming increase in catalytic converter thefts. These converters can be easily taken from unattended cars but are difficult and expensive for car owners to replace,” Klobuchar, a member of the Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over trucking policy, said this month.

“By making catalytic converter theft a criminal offense and ensuring each converter can be easily tracked,” she continued, “our legislation would provide law enforcement officers with the tools and resources they need to crack down on these crimes.”

“The theft of catalytic converters hurts the pocketbooks of working families and small business owners already struggling with rising costs,” said Wyden, chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee.

“By strengthening local law enforcement’s ability to locate stolen car parts, we will be one step closer in the fight to end catalytic converter theft,” Wyden added.

Specifically, the measure would require new vehicles to have an identification number stamped on their converters. The bill also would establish grants for entities seeking to stamp identification numbers onto catalytic converters of used vehicles. It also would pursue record-keeping improvements for the catalytic converters market, and it would codify certain criminal offenses associated with catalytic converters.

Earlier this year, Rep. Jim Baird (R-Ind.) introduced similar legislation. “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,” Baird said in January. He is the ranking member of the Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee. “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.”

Both bills have garnered bipartisan backing and await consideration in their respective chamber.

Key stakeholders have endorsed the legislative effort this year. These include the National Automobile Dealers Association, American Truck Dealers, American Trucking Associations, the Automotive Recyclers Association, the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, among others.

“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, in a statement accompanying the introduction of the House bill.

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“Car thefts and other auto crimes like catalytic converter thefts have risen dramatically over the past two years and are at record highs,” added Glawe. “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.”

“Thieves can easily steal catalytic converters from unattended vehicles, and since they are not readily traceable, there is a lucrative market for these stolen parts,” according to a letter in May to the House Energy and Commerce panel from stakeholders supportive of the legislation led by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

“These thefts are costing millions of dollars to businesses and vehicle owners alike,” the stakeholders wrote further. “In addition, replacing a catalytic converter is costly and often difficult due to the part’s skyrocketing demand and supply chain shortages.”