Are The Recent New Legislations Enough to Stop Catalytic Converter Theft?

by Lester Ko August 22nd, 2022 in Auto Dealership Security, Security Resources
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes, 56 seconds
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With the cost of replacing catalytic converters soaring to new heights never seen before, states around the world are enacting new bills; also dubbed the “Scrap Metal Act”, to help combat the rampant cases of catalytic theft. But the real question remains: Will the new legislation be enough, or will it just be a temporary remedy leaving the “cats” on the streets to fend for themselves yet again?

The Anatomy of a Catalytic Converter

Imagine having the perfect date and coming back from a night out at the movie theatres only to find that the infamous vehicle part that has become the center of numerous thefts, otherwise known as the catalytic converter, has been stolen off your car. Sounds frustrating, doesn’t it? Many feel the same. In fact, within the first four months of 2022 alone, roughly 26,000 “cats” have been “snatched” off the streets. If this upwards trend continues to remain untamed, 78,000 cars will be projected to lose their catalytic converters by the year-end of 2022. Spooky.


Adapted from NICB and BeenVerified

Ironically, thieves selling these parts are only making on average $60-1100 per unit, while the victims will have to pay up to $3000-5000 for replacement parts plus labour charges on top of that. While you can claim insurance to get the cost partially reimbursed, the NAIC announced that roughly 21% of car owners in America don’t have comprehensive coverage (additional insurance coverage that covers loss or damage to your vehicle from theft, vandalism, and nature; e.g earthquake, weather, falling tree) and 13% of this percentage are either driving uninsured or living in a part of America that doesn’t require car insurance. 

But the truth of the matter is that thieves don’t discriminate in terms of which cars they are targeting, whether it’s the newest Lamborghini on the street or a roughed-up 2006 SUV with 200km mileage, it’s all fair game when it comes to making a quick buck for thieves. So here is a wake-up call: You’re not immune to thieves stealing your catalytic converter just because you have an “ancient machine” for a car. However, what you can control is first and foremost reinforcing the first line of defense (e.g remote security, surveillance cameras) for your car and then choosing the correct auto insurance to make sure you aren’t bearing the full cost yourself when these unfortunate circumstances arise.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but the immense cost (especially for car owners who don’t have coverage) that comes from replacing the catalytic converter often might not make sense from a cost perspective and come to be more than the car is valued at market price. These scenarios and a bunch of other factors at play have attracted the attention of lawmakers from around the world to come together to combat this chronic problem by enacting new bills that specifically target the supply chain within the automobile industry. This includes implementing much stricter requirements such as requiring mandatory records for all catalytic-converter-related transactions and registering them through serial numbers, enabling more transparent trackability capabilities, among many others. To learn more about the details of ongoing bills, visit: Catalytic Converter Theft Bills 2022.

New Legislation for Catalytic Converters in North America

Adapted from NICB

The bills are by design, fundamentally aimed to become a legal deterrent to close the “loophole” in the automobile industry, by making it more difficult for thieves to cash in their loot to recyclers. This is a proactive effort to target the “incentive” piece and makes this kind of theft unattractive as a result. 

While these new legislations are a step in the direction of stabilizing and curbing catalytic theft around the world, a hard pill to swallow is that it most likely won’t be the end-all-be-all solution that we hoped it will be. As with many organized crime organizations, there always seems to be another loophole to exploit (e.g black market).

While not the solution to the problem as a whole, here are some preventative measures we’ve compiled from law enforcement officers from around the world which can help you secure your vehicle(s) as crime hopefully starts to level out:

1.) Leduc Alberta RCMP: Apply Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) best practices the next time you consider where to park your vehicle. 

  1. Natural Surveillance - discouraging criminal activity by increasing the visibility of a property (e.g clear sightlines, places with lots of traffic, landscaping, etc.)
  2. Territorial Reinforcement - display a sense of control, maintenance, and ownership in an area (e.g installing fences)
  3. Access Control - limiting public access and denying access to private areas (e.g limiting the number of entry points, fencing, etc)

2.) Richardson Police, Texas: Paint or etch “VIN” onto the catalytic converter to deter resale value and enable authorities to identify stolen property.

  1. Many police departments around the world have partnered with local businesses to host free catalytic converter etching clinics to help deter theft in their community - so be sure to take advantage of that! Here is a recent event that was held in Kyle, Texas.

3.) Vancouver RCMP: Install good lighting in your parking lot and add a layer of security with security cameras (we can help with this!).

  1. Having a security camera installed in the interior of your car or even in your parking lot will often provide you with concrete evidence to submit to insurance claims and support your case and claim more to cover the costs of potential theft.

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