Catalytic converter thefts are on the rising, prompting the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and 12 other trade groups to urge Congress to advance a bipartisan bill to combat this threat.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau said there were 14,433 catalytic converter thefts reported in the U.S. in 2020 — the last year figures were available — compared with 3,389 cases in 2019. In 2018, the industry reported just 1,298 thefts.
Industry experts say catalytic converters are moneymakers for crooks who steal them. These auto parts consist of platinum, rhodium, and palladium, all of which are precious metals. A converter's scrap value thus can yield well over $200 per piece, with some larger, rare converters fetching over $1,000. But vehicle owners pay as much as $2,500 to replace these critical parts.
Automotive trade groups have sent a letter to Democratic and Republican leadership on the House Energy and Commerce Committee requesting that the committee hold a hearing on legislation known as the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act and support the measure.
“These thefts are costing millions of dollars to businesses and vehicle owners alike,” the groups wrote in a letter to Reps. Frank Pallone, the committee's chairman, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the GOP ranking member. “In addition, replacing a catalytic converter is costly and often difficult due to the part’s skyrocketing demand and supply chain shortages.”
The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, American Car Rental Association, American Truck Dealers, American Trucking Associations, National Insurance Crime Bureau and National RV Dealers Association also signed the letter.
“Catalytic converter theft is a major concern for dealers nationwide,” NADA CEO Mike Stanton said in a statement. “The PART Act would help deter catalytic converter thefts that are impacting dealerships, fleet businesses and consumers alike.”
The PART Act, introduced in January by Rep. Jim Baird, aims to reduce catalytic converter thefts by requiring manufacturers to the VIN stamped onto the converter, helping law enforcement officers to link stolen parts to the originating vehicles.
The bill also would establish a grant program to allow dealers, repair shops and other eligible parties to stamp VINs onto converters of existing vehicles.
At least eight House Republicans and three Democrats reportedly support the bill.