New law in New York aims to reduce theft of catalytic converters

Surveillance video shows a group of men stealing the catalytic converter from under Eric Tenner’s car parked in the driveway of his house in Huntington Station.

“I have security lights on like everyone says and cameras,” he said.

According to officials, in New York alone, thefts of catalytic converters have almost quadrupled this year compared to last year. In Nassau, the numbers are said to have increased by 248%. In Suffolk, there have been nearly three times as many thefts this year.

Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday signed legislation to help victims and crack down on what she calls a recent phenomenon.

“If a theft is reported, we will know more where to get the information,” she said.

As part of the legislation, car dealerships will soon stock catalytic converter etching kits to affix serial numbers to components in new and used cars.

“It’s applied with acid and it burns off and it’s in catalytic converters,” Hochul said.

Legislation also requires salvage companies to keep records. Every 60 days, these companies must report the number of catalytic converters received or they could be fined up to double the amount made and take the converter components allegedly stolen.

“We want to put the blame where it belongs,” said Senator Diane Savino.

Matt Meng, owner and operator of auto repair shop The Little Garage, called it a good effort, but doesn’t think it will do much in the long run.

“If you have the nerve to steal a catalytic converter, they’ll just cut open the skin, take the metals, and throw it in the trash,” Meng said.

According to experts, taller vehicles are more susceptible because thieves can slip underneath. Additionally, the mid-2000s Toyota Prius contains one of the most precious metals.

The legislation also provides a $20 million budget to help local police departments with new technologies to solve, reduce and prevent crime.

The legislation comes into force 180 days.

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