WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — U.S. Rep. Jim Baird introduced a bill in congress Thursday that aims to reduce catalytic converter thefts by helping police identify stolen parts.
(UPDATE: The attached video is a report about the passage of a law intended to curb catalytic converter thefts.)
Baird, who represents western Indiana's 4th District, said the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act would require new vehicles to have a VIN number stamped onto the converter and create a grant program for stamping VIN numbers onto catalytic converters of existing vehicles.
By marking the catalytic converters, police would be better able to trace and enforce laws that prohibit the theft and resale of the valuable metals inside the converters to scrap dealers for hundreds of dollars.
Catalytic converter theft became a felony in Indiana in 2021.
"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."
Laura Cooper, executive director the Major Cities Chiefs Associations — a national organization of police leaders who collaborate on innovations in crime prevention — said if passed, the law would deter criminals from catalytic converter theft and hold them accountable if they go through with it.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts rose from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 in 2020 — an increase of more than 325%. The lack of criminal code addressing the trafficking of stolen converters means that law enforcement must catch a criminal in the act of removing the part in order to prosecute a case.
Rep. Baird's PART Act seeks to curb catalytic converter thefts by allowing police to link stolen parts to their original vehicle. It would improve record-keeping standards for scrap yards that buy used catalytic converters, and tighten laws for catalytic converter theft.