New California law aims to crack down on catalytic converter thefts

Assemblyman Jim Patterson introduced the bill to add investigative support from the CHP.

Brittany Jacob Image
Friday, July 22, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

The law was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Patterson after catalytic converters theft shot up 900% in Fresno County from 2020 to 2021.

FRESNO, Calif. -- Lawmakers are trying to crack down on catalytic converters thefts.

Within seconds, crooks can remove the expensive car part, as seen in multiple surveillance videos.

RELATED: Video shows catalytic converter theft in Fresno in less than 2 minutes

They sell it on the black market or sell it to a recycler who can strip it down for its precious metals.

But the owner of Brunos' Iron and Metal, Randy Tosi, said because of all the theft, he felt the need to stop buying them.

"It's sad, that's part of the reason we don't buy them... We do not want to make it easy for thieves to get money, and they are too easy to steal," he says.

For 58 years, his Fresno County business has recycled just about everything, but he stopped purchasing the catalytic converters about a decade ago.

"There's a lot of money in them and it's tempting, but.... we have pretty high values here," he says.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson says catalytic converters theft shot up 900% in Fresno County from 2020 to 2021.

"It is a real epidemic of theft," he says.

RELATED: Report reveals which vehicles are targeted for catalytic converters thefts

That's why he introduced AB 1653 - Allowing for a CHP Taskforce to Assist with Catalytic Converter Theft Investigations.

"Every time we can put the resources of the state and local law enforcement focus on a particular set of problems, we have really seen some results," Patterson says.

Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed the bill into law to try to prosecute more of the crooks.

But law enforcement officials say this law won't stop the thefts.

RELATED: What you can do to help prevent catalytic converter thefts

They suggest that to really improve things, the state needs to create a system where car owners place ID numbers on their catalytic converters that correspond to the VIN number and store it in a DMV database.

Currently, if an officer doesn't stop someone in the act, they can't prove the converter was stolen.

"You have to be able to identify the product. There's no numbers, no tags, there's no anything on those cats. And you can't say it's mine, there's no case," says Randy Tosi.

This new taskforce will be established in January.

Patterson says there was no additional funding needed to create the taskforce.