U.S. Rep. Jim Baird introduced a bill in Congress aiming to curb catalytic converter theft.
“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 a news release announcing the bill.
“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.”
National Insurance Crime Bureau President David Glawe supports the proposed law.
“Car thefts and other auto crimes like catalytic converter thefts have risen dramatically over the past two years and are at record highs,” Glawe said. “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.”
Baird, who represents Western Indiana’s 4th District, said the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act would require new vehicles to have a VIN stamped on the converter. The legislation also aims to create a grant program for stamping VINs on older vehicles’ catalytic converters.
Major Cities Chiefs Associations Executive Director Laura Cooper said that if approved, the law would discourage criminals from stealing catalytic converters and hold them accountable if they do commit the crime. Major Cities Chiefs Associations is a national group of police leaders who work on innovative ways to prevent crime.
As per the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of catalytic converters stolen increased from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 in 2020, increasing over 325%. The absence of a criminal code that deals with the theft of converters implies that law enforcement officers must capture a person in the act of removing the component to prosecute the case.
Rep. Baird’s PART Act seeks to curb catalytic converter thefts by permitting police to connect the stolen components to the vehicle they came from. It would improve the record-keeping requirements for scrap yards that purchase used catalytic converters. It would also tighten laws for the theft of catalytic converters.
By marking the vehicle part, police could identify and enforce laws against taking and selling precious metals contained by these converters to dealers who sell scrap for hundreds of dollars.
The theft of catalytic converters became a felony in Indiana last year.