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Legislation Signed To Combat Thefts Of Catalytic Converters

Gov. Kathy Hochul this week signed legislation to combat the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles.

The new law will impose 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,” 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 filter pollutants from a vehicle’s exhaust system. According to the Associated Press, the emission control devices are made with valuable precious metals and sit on the underside of a vehicle; they can be removed in a matter of minutes with a machine-powered saw.

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% from 2019.

The legislation signed by Hochul 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, the governor said, 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.

Over the summer, the catalytic converter of a village of Silver Creek pickup truck was stolen. It was one of a handful of such thefts reported recently to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Village officials believe someone entered the DPW grounds where Routes 5 and 20 meet from the railroad tracks to the north and removed the catalytic converter from the truck.

“We left it out and the next day we didn’t use it,” said Robert Bankoski, public works superintendent. “When we did start it, it sounded like a demolition derby. We called the Sheriff’s Office and reported it.”

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