Hochul signs bill to curb catalytic converter thefts

Hochul signs bill to curb catalytic converter thefts
Gov. Kathy Hochul is joined by lawmakers as she signs catalytic converter theft prevention legislation into law. The new initiatives bolster interagency enforcement in high-theft areas to combat catalytic converter theft. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new initiatives to strengthen interagency enforcement in high-theft areas and legislation to combat catalytic converter heists Monday amid a rash of these larcenies in Nassau County.

Nearly 1,300 catalytic converters have been stolen in Nassau County since the beginning of the year, compared to 131 last year, according to police.

The new legislation imposes restrictions on the purchase, sale and possession of catalytic converters by vehicle dismantlers and scrap processors. It requires all qualified dealerships to carry etching kits to offer to anyone purchasing a new vehicle.

“Public safety is my top priority and we’re taking an aggressive, targeted approach to deter criminals from stealing catalytic converters,” Hochul said in a statement. “Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed across our state and nation and these comprehensive actions double down on our efforts to keep New Yorkers and their property safe, protecting our communities and cracking down on crime.”

The legislation changes the Vehicle and Traffic Law to include catalytic converters as a major component vehicle part, requiring vehicle dismantlers to keep records on them. Businesses must also report the number of catalytic converters received every 60 days. Failure to do so upon request is now a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to twice the amount made in taking in allegedly stolen converter components.

New vehicle dealers and other approved dealers will also be obliged to carry catalytic converter etching kits to imprint a unique serial number on the components so that they can be traced back if stolen.

Hochul said that $20 million is available to assist local police departments and sheriff’s offices. This money will be invested into new technologies to solve, reduce and prevent crime.

“We need to give our law enforcement the tools and resources they need and while I’ve been proud to deliver more funding to our police to help them keep our community safe, we can still do more to address the theft of catalytic converters in our community,”  state Sen. Anna Kaplan, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in an earlier statement.

Before dangerous engine emissions are released into the atmosphere, catalytic converters convert them into safe gases. A stolen converter can cost a dealer $2,000 to $3,000 to replace it and to repair damage to a vehicle’s undercarriage, fuel line and electric lines caused by the theft.

While reselling catalytic converters is illegal, Det. Sgt. Jeffrey Raymond, commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s Burglary Pattern Crime Squad, said the precious metals found in catalytic converters — rhodium, platinum and palladium — can be lucrative.

Rhodium is valued at more than $12,000 per ounce, palladium is worth more than $2,000 per ounce and platinum is worth almost $900 per ounce as of July, according to Kitco.com, one of the world’s top precious metal retailers. The report said the price of those precious metals has risen since the turn of the century.

Nearly 1,300 catalytic converters have been stolen in Nassau County since the beginning of the year, compared to 131 last year, according to police.


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