Federal Bill Would Set Penalties For Catalytic Converter Theft

Dec. 15, 2022

A federal-level bill intended to help police thwart catalytic converter theft has been introduced. 

The Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act, written by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore), would create a national framework to mark catalytic converters and establish federal criminal penalties for converter theft.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) applauds the legislation.

“Catalytic converter theft is out of control nationwide,” says NADA President and CEO Mike Stanton. “Because converters currently can’t be traced and laws are different from state to state, criminals see catalytic converter theft as easy money. This is a huge issue for dealerships and consumers alike."

Converter thefts rose 326% in 2020 and another 353% last year, according to NADA . 

"Catalytic converters are easy to steal, but generally very difficult to trace to a specific vehicle - allowing them to be easily sold on the black market," say NADA officials.

"The lack of traceable identifying marks makes the theft of catalytic converters difficult to curb. Stolen catalytic converters can be sold on the black market anywhere from $200 to $350, with the replacement cost to vehicle owners averaging over $2,500."

The PART Act requires new vehicles to have unique, traceable identifying numbers stamped on catalytic converters at the time of assembly.

In addition, the bill increases record keeping requirements for purchasers and establishes a federal criminal penalty for the theft, sale, trafficking or known purchase of stolen catalytic converters of up to five years in jail.

“Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed nationwide since the pandemic began and because these are property crimes, there is very little deterrent for the individuals committing these acts,” says David Glawe, president and chief executive officer of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“Congress must act to make stealing a catalytic converter a felony and introduce stiffer penalties to deter would-be criminals from committing these acts in the first place.  Additionally, law enforcement needs the capability to track illegal sales in the secondary market.”

Click here to read about how independent tire dealers across the country are grappling with catalytic converter theft.