- Legislation calls for the creation of a Catalytic Converter Task Force comprised of DOT & DOJ officials, local & state law enforcement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) have announced today the introduction of their legislation to form a federal task force to address the widespread problem of catalytic converter theft.
“With the rate of catalytic converter theft continuing to go up in New Mexico, it’s clear we need to be doing more – including at the federal level,” Heinrich said. “This legislation will give our federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies the information and recommendations they need to prevent these crimes and protect the safety and well-being of New Mexicans.”
“The uptick in car thefts has impacted every corner of our country, including folks in New Mexico. Drivers should be able to park their cars anywhere without the threat of their vehicles being stolen for parts,” Luján said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation to implement a federal task force, under the Department of Transportation, focused on converter theft. This legislation will address the trafficking of car parts, assess existing laws for drivers’ safety, and save drivers from financial burden.”
“This legislation requires the Attorney General and the Secretary of Transportation to establish a federal task force to crack down on catalytic converter theft in a holistic approach as this is a crime that spans multiple jurisdictions. We know that thieves operate across state lines – coming here to Bergen County and then driving across the bridge or through the tunnel to sell catalytic converters in New York and other states,” Menendez said. “We need law enforcement agencies, advocates and insurers, car dealers and manufacturers to all be on the same page. And we need the public to know that catalytic converter theft is a major issue affecting far too many Americans across the country. It shouldn’t take thousands of innocent victims so far — and potentially thousands more in the future — to stop this epidemic in its tracks.”
The Catalytic Converter Theft Task Force Act will create an interagency task force led by the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation, and will also include representatives from state and local law enforcement agencies. The legislation directs the task force to assess existing laws, regulations, and law enforcement practices and resources related to the rising rates of catalytic converter thefts and to make recommendations to Congress, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Transportation, and State and local law enforcement agencies on reforms to deter, detect, prevent, solve, and prosecute the theft and trafficking of catalytic converters, along with other automobile parts that contain precious metals that are being targeted by thieves.
In April, new legislation, (SB 133) was enacted in New Mexico to tackle the rise in catalytic converter theft. The New Mexico law requires secondhand metal dealers who purchase or receive catalytic converters to keep records of the transaction that include the seller’s information, a copy of their identification, and legal documentation that demonstrates their ownership of the catalytic converter.
As this issue requires a whole-of-government approach, Sens. Heinrich and Luján are introducing this federal legislation to address what is an interstate and multi-jurisdictional issue.
The number of catalytic converter thefts reported in insurance company claims has greatly increased over the past three years, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that these thefts increased by 1,215% between 2019 and 2022. Stolen catalytic converters can garner anywhere from $20 to $350 on illegal markets, with the replacement cost to vehicle owners averaging over $2,500.
Find a copy of the bill text of the legislation HERE.