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New California laws crack down on catalytic converter thefts

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Sept. 26 AM Edition)
CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Sept. 26 AM Edition) 01:54

California is cracking down on catalytic converter theft by making it harder to sell the parts.

On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law two bills that would require recyclers to keep specific records on the parts they buy and sell, and requiring used catalytic converters to be sold only by authorized parties.

"We're gonna get to the root cause, at least one of the root causes of this crime, and that's those brokers and those middlemen who pay top dollar for stolen parts," Newsom said in a video posted to Twitter announcing the new laws. "It will now be illegal in California to buy catalytic converters from anyone other than licensed auto dismantlers or dealers. And the people who buy and sell these parts now have to keep detailed records, detailed records, so we can better trace thefts if indeed they do occur.

"You take away the market for stolen goods, you can help cut down on the stealing," Newsom said.

Thefts of catalytic converters, an exhaust emissions device valued for their precious metals, exploded across the country, increasing tenfold in California alone since 2018, according to Newsom. During the pandemic, law enforcement agencies and municipalities struggled to crack down on the thefts — ranging from huge busts that recovered treasure troves of catalytic converters, to etching the parts with each vehicle's VIN number, to instituting new fines if being found in possession of a stolen part.

A number of attempted thefts led to shootings, and two men were killed after crashing into a pool with a stolen catalytic converter in their truck.

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