NY will crack down on catalytic converter and auto theft

Posted 17 October 2022 at 2:59 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced new actions to increase interagency vehicle and catalytic converter theft enforcements in high-theft areas by targeting unauthorized and illegal vehicle dismantlers, or “chop shops.”

The Governor also signed legislation (S.9428/ A.1940-E) to combat the theft of catalytic converters, which imposes restrictions on the purchase, sale, and possession of catalytic converters by vehicle dismantlers and scrap processers.

“Public safety is my top priority, and we’re taking an aggressive, targeted approach to deter criminals from stealing catalytic converters,” Governor Hochul said. “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.”

Catalytic converters are a key piece of a vehicle’s exhaust system, breaking down pollutants like smog that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Theft of catalytic converters is costly to auto dealers, as well as the driving public. It can cost a dealer $2,000 to $3,000 to replace a stolen converter in order to fix damage to a vehicle’s undercarriage, fuel line, and electric lines in the process of a theft.

Interagency cooperation and enforcement are key to addressing this statewide issue. New York State Police and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles are directed to leverage their existing partnerships with local, state, and federal law enforcement to increase investigations and crackdowns in high-theft areas. These investigations often involved organized theft operations that cross state lines.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts increased from roughly 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021 – an increase of roughly 1,215 percent from 2019.

New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “We have been working diligently on several fronts to address this issue of catalytic converter thefts. We are working closely with our partners in law enforcement and the auto dealership industry to address these thefts by distributing etching kits. We have held and will continue to hold press conferences across New York State to raise awareness among consumers and educate them on ways to safeguard their vehicles against these thefts.”

Catalytic Converter Theft Bill

The Governor signed legislation (S.9428/ A.1940-E), which amends the Vehicle and Traffic Law to add catalytic converters as a major component vehicle part, which will require vehicle dismantlers to maintain records of them.

Every 60 days, those businesses must report the number of catalytic converters received during that period. Failing to maintain or produce those records upon request is a Class A misdemeanor and could include monetary penalties of up to double the amount made in taking in allegedly stolen converter components.

In addition, new motor vehicle dealers and other qualified dealers will be required to stock catalytic converter etching kits to put a unique serial number on the components so that they can be tracked back if they are stolen. Those kits will be provided at no more than the cost of the kit itself.

The Governor also announced $20 million is available to help local police departments and sheriffs’ offices invest in new technologies to solve, reduce, and prevent crime.

In mid-December, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services will seek applications for technology requests, including license plate readers, mobile and fixed surveillance cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, gunshot detection devices, smart equipment for patrol vehicles and officers, and other kinds of public safety equipment.

To inform this procurement, DCJS has issued a request for information to obtain feedback from police departments and sheriffs’ offices on the types of technology they need; the agency will accept responses through Nov. 18.