Catalytic Converter Laws by State

united states flag and court hammerLawmakers in a variety of states have passed strict legislation to combat the growing problem of catalytic converter theft, which has sparked a national outcry. Across the country, from California to the South (Texas, Arkansas, etc.) and even into the Midwest (Minnesota, for example), lawmakers are working to pass laws that will protect drivers, companies, and the environment.

This extensive list aims to explore catalytic converter laws in different states, illuminating new bills that have recently been introduced, those that are soon to be considered, and the larger federal landscape that influences the regulatory framework for this important matter.

California Catalytic Converter Laws:

The state of California has taken legislative measures to curb the frequent cases of catalytic converter theft, which has arisen as a big and costly issue. Damages were an astounding $23 million due to almost 1,600 thefts per month in 2021, and victims had significant repair expenditures of up to $4,000 each event. Assemblymember Vince Fong (AB 641), who represents the Central Valley, was the driving force behind the recently approved legislation that aims to address this growing issue.

With its full bipartisan support in the Legislature, AB 641 is set to make a significant impact in protecting motorists in California from catalytic converter thefts. The unauthorized dismantling of automobiles can be prosecuted under one of the important clauses if a person is found with nine or more stolen catalytic converters. A misdemeanor charge of $250 to $1,000 is now levied for each incident of unlicensed vehicle deconstruction, which is a major factor in converter thefts.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblymember Fong, stressed the need for more measures to punish criminals and safeguard Californians. He stressed that the bill’s goals include discouraging theft and increasing punishments for offenders so that families, businesses, and NGOs in California can get some much-needed financial relief.

California Police Chiefs Association President Chief Alexander Gammelgard emphasized the importance of AB 641 in providing law enforcement with a powerful weapon to fight catalytic converter theft. California is taking the initiative to address this widespread issue with a new law that will go into effect on January 1, 2024.

Another legislative response to catalytic converter theft, AB 1519, deals with the removal or alteration of marks on converters, including Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs). Having three catalytic converters that have had these IDs removed or altered is also considered a criminal offence under this statute. By criminalizing both the theft of converters and the possession of modified converters, AB 1519 demonstrates the state’s determination to reduce converter thefts.

New Mexico Catalytic Converter Laws:

Theft of catalytic converters has been on the rise, prompting legislative action in New Mexico. To tackle this pervasive crime, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 133 into law on April 12, 2023.

Catalytic converters are subject to new laws imposed by Senate Bill 133, which targets traders in used metals. Under the rules, these dealers must keep detailed records of every sale, including the seller’s details, an identity copy, and legal paperwork proving they hold the catalytic converter.

The measure is an example of a proactive and bipartisan effort to prevent the theft of catalytic converters in the state. New Mexico hopes to discourage would-be criminals and aid law enforcement in their investigations and prevention efforts by mandating that metal sellers maintain extensive records.

Senate Bill 133’s sponsor, Mimi Stewart, has spoken about how this law is necessary to fight a crime that has tragically grown in frequency in the country and in the state. The recently passed legislation is expected to be an effective means of protecting communities and discouraging criminals involved in the theft of catalytic converters. The state’s resolve to tackle this matter is indicative of a concerted endeavor to safeguard citizens and companies from the financial and security risks linked to converter theft.

Ohio Catalytic Converter Laws:

Thefts of catalytic converters have been on the rise in recent years, and Ohio politicians have responded by passing legislation to combat the problem. U.S. The Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts Act was introduced not long ago by Democrats J.D. Vance, Amy Klobuchar, and Mike Braun and Republicans Ron Wyden. Requiring catalytic converters to carry traceable identity numbers is a critical measure proposed by this legislation to fight converter thefts.

Authorities in Lucas County, including the sheriff’s office, have stressed the critical importance of this bill. The fact that stolen and resold catalytic converters are so easy to get by is something that Capt. Matt Luettke brings up. These components have a high market value—anywhere from $5 to $500—which makes them even more tempting to steal.

Proposed legislation seeks to criminalize thefts by requiring traceable identification numbers on new car converters, notwithstanding the difficulties law enforcement encounters in catching thieves in the act. To ensure that law enforcement may charge anyone caught in possession of stolen parts, this provision is essential for presenting proof.

South Dakota Catalytic Converter Laws:

South Dakota has responded to the growing problem of stolen catalytic converters by enacting strict laws through Section 34A-6-109, which targets scrap metal firms in particular. With an emphasis on detached catalytic converters, this law lays up stringent recordkeeping rules for the purchase of nonferrous metal property.

Records must be kept by every scrap metal firm for every acquisition of nonferrous metal property over one hundred dollars, as stated in Section 34A-6-109. The law makes it clear that regardless of the purchase price, records must be retained for transactions involving disconnected catalytic converters. The place that buys the scrap metal must have the records easily accessible.

Essential details to guarantee transparency and transaction traceability are included in the stated recordkeeping standards. In this record, you will find the following information: the time, place, and amount of the sale of nonferrous metals; the seller’s name, street address, city, and state; and the seller’s signature. The law also requires you to include a copy of the seller’s most recent government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license. The identity of the employee representing the scrap metal firm in the transaction must also be recorded, along with a thorough description of the nonferrous metal properties involved in the transaction, including weight, quantity, or volume.

This law, which has its roots in SL 2008, Chapter 179 and has been revised by SL 2019, Chapter 161, and SL 2022, Chapter 139, emphasizes the dedication of South Dakota to combating the theft of catalytic converters by instituting strict documentation procedures. Businesses, car owners, and society as a whole are better protected thanks to these regulations, which have dual purposes: discouraging illegal activity and making it easier to identify and punish those responsible.

Georgia Catalytic Converter Laws:

By signing Georgia Senate Bill 60 into law on April 26, 2023, Governor Brian Kemp made a notable move in the fight against catalytic converter theft. This law seeks to reduce the unlawful acquisition, possession, acquisition, and sale of certain items, including utility wire, communications copper, used, detached catalytic converters, and several other items that Auto Crime & Patrol detectives find particularly problematic.

Law enforcement agencies in Georgia now have the tools they need to combat the theft of catalytic converters, thanks to Senate Bill 60. Without a matching theft report or vehicle identification number, investigators frequently encountered people with cut catalytic converters before this law. The new legislation makes it easier for police to investigate reports of illegal possession of catalytic converters without requiring a theft report or linking the crime to a particular car, and it also increases recycling requirements across the state.

A major step forward in Georgia’s battle against catalytic converter theft has been this legislative endeavor. As an added bonus, it gives police more resources to deal with illegal possession and serves as a model for other states that are facing the same problems. The passing of Georgia Senate Bill 60 was greatly aided by the combined efforts of individuals such as Pull-A-Part’s Steve Levetan and Derick Corbett, as well as others in the recycling sector.

Arizona Catalytic Converter Laws:

Recognizing the gravity of the problem and the necessity for strong legal measures, Arizona has made considerable efforts to fight the thefts of catalytic converters. A notable example involving Ford was brought to light last summer in South Phoenix. The company was found in possession of more than 1,200 catalytic converters, which led to legal action under ARS 13-3728(A). It is now against the law to buy, sell, possess, market, or solicit secondhand catalytic converters or any nonferrous components of one, according to a change to this statute in May 2022. It is worth mentioning that the possession of a secondhand catalytic converter was not prohibited by law in Arizona until May of 2022.

Collaborating with local police agencies and Midas Auto Repair, County Attorney Rachel Mitchell has spearheaded efforts to reduce thefts of catalytic converters through the organization of etching events. The purpose of these events, which have been happening regularly since last summer, is to provide people with a way to actively stop thefts by etching identifying information onto catalytic converters.

A vital weapon for prosecuting anyone discovered in possession of old catalytic converters, the legal modification passed about a year ago ensures accountability following the law. County Attorney Rachel Mitchell stresses the importance of holding free etching programs to provide the community with practical skills to prevent theft.

Catalytic converters can be protected by having identifying information etched onto them. In addition to deterring theft, etched converters that end up in the wrong hands can be used as evidence to bring those responsible for catalytic converter theft to justice. To safeguard citizens and companies from the financial and security risks posed by catalytic converter thefts, Arizona has taken a holistic approach, integrating legislative changes with community involvement through etching events.

Texas Catalytic Converter Laws:

There is already strong legislation in Texas that deals with the theft of catalytic converters. Theft, acquisition, or sale of stolen catalytic converters is now a felony in the state thanks to House Bill 4110, which was signed into law in June 2021 by Governor Greg Abbott. Offenders are subject to severe penalties, such as a $10,000 fine and six months to two years in a state prison for first-time offenders. Catalytic converter theft is a third-degree felony in Texas, and offenders with a history of offenses face sentences of two to ten years in jail.

As a sign of its determination to safeguard its citizens and companies from this widespread crime, Texas has implemented strict sanctions to discourage the theft of catalytic converters. This bill shows that the state is serious about punishing those responsible for converter theft, which has a negative effect on the economy and public safety.

Texas is still keeping tabs on how well its stringent regulations are working, even though it has already done so. If necessary, changes might be made to further fortify the state’s legislative framework against theft of catalytic converters, guaranteeing a thorough and aggressive strategy to tackle this crime.

Close up old catalytic converter in hand

Minnesota Catalytic Converter Laws:

Detachable catalytic converters are required by Minnesota law to display the vehicle identification number (VIN) beginning August 1, 2023. Starting in August 2024, a loophole in the state law that contributed to the high rate of theft will be closed, requiring scrap yards to disclose purchases to an online database.

Colorado Catalytic Converter Laws:

A joint effort between the Boulder Police and the Colorado Autotheft Prevention Authority has taken preventative action in the state in light of the alarming increase in thefts of catalytic converters. By providing the people of Boulder County with catalytic converter etching kits, this project seeks to address the issue of converter theft. As a practical and effective deterrent against theft, the kits allow residents to etch their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) onto their cars.

The etching kits come with a window sticker and detailed instructions on how to etch the VIN decal. As far as Colorado converter thefts are concerned, this program is working. Community efforts to combat this ubiquitous crime are enhanced by the VIN decal’s database capability, which assists in identifying and retrieving stolen converters. It also acts as a preventive measure.

If we want to develop successful ways to prevent the theft of catalytic converters, we need to know why people do it. In response to the alarming rise in vehicle thefts in Colorado, residents are taking measures such as VIN etching to protect their vehicles and deter would-be thieves.

Senate Bill 22-179 (Colorado) concerns regulations pertaining to tampering with catalytic converters and aims to further reinforce the legal framework against theft of these devices. The proposed sanctions in the bill vary from $200 to $15,000 and are based on the seriousness of the offense. It also forbids the sale of converters in the absence of the required paperwork. While these fines have been considered, they are not yet in place; instead, they are set to take effect in 2024.

Virginia Catalytic Converter Laws:

The problem of theft of catalytic converters is dealt with in Virginia by means of laws that are detailed in § 18.2-146.1. It is against the law to sell, offer for sale, or buy a catalytic converter that has been removed from the exhaust system of a motor vehicle, according to this statute. This crime falls under the category of Class 6 felony.

Suppose a scrap metal purchaser follows the compliance requirements outlined in subdivisions B 1 or 2 of § 59.1-136.3. In that case, it is permissible to sell, offer for sale, or buy a catalytic converter from a motor vehicle exhaust system that has been disconnected, according to the legislation. Responsible scrap metal purchase methods that adhere to established compliance requirements are acknowledged with this exception.

Noteworthy, § 18.2-146.1 makes it clear that this section does not ban the sale, offer for sale, or purchase of a brand-new catalytic converter that has never been installed on a motor vehicle. By making this differentiation, the Act will not affect lawful transactions involving new catalytic converters.

By establishing severe punishments for unlawful trades involving disconnected converters, Virginia’s law demonstrates a determination to fight the theft of catalytic converters. While retaining the emphasis on discouraging illegal actions associated with the theft of these vital vehicle components, the inclusion of exceptions recognizes ethical business operations.

Other States Catalytic Converter Laws:

Several states have introduced or passed laws to combat the theft of catalytic converters. Core recyclers in New Jersey cannot buy converters without attachments unless they are sold by official sources. Purchases in South Carolina can only be made by authorized dealers or designated entities. While Washington is establishing a task force to investigate and lessen theft, Colorado is trying to legislate converter transactions requiring paperwork.

Federal Legislation:

Legislation to establish federal sanctions for converter theft is being considered by Congress as part of the bipartisan Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act. The plan calls for tagging new cars with VINs and mandating that buyers and sellers keep records of their transactions to make conversions traceable.

Anti-Theft Solutions

Legislative actions and practical anti-theft solutions must be implemented simultaneously to combat the alarming increase in stolen catalytic converters. States and people can think about the following strategies:

  • Traceable Identification Numbers: One effective measure would be to require catalytic converters to have traceable identifying numbers, as is proposed in the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts Act. This step helps authorities catch criminals and makes it easier to trace stolen converters.

  • Catalytic Converter Etching Programs: One way to discourage the practice is to promote and coordinate community-based etching events for catalytic converters. Thieves will be less likely to target a converter with distinctive etching, like a vehicle identifying number (VIN), since these parts may be more readily tracked.

  • Enhanced Security Measures: Surveillance cameras placed in high-traffic areas are one example of an enhanced security technique that can both dissuade criminals and help catch them in the act. Another way to deter carjackings is to have well-lit parking spaces and safe places to keep valuable automobiles.

  • Legislation and Regulation: The black market for stolen components might be stifled by laws that are constantly being revised and strengthened regarding the sale and purchase of catalytic converters. As an example, certain states, like South Dakota, have implemented stringent recordkeeping rules for scrap metal enterprises.

  • Public Awareness Campaigns: A more watchful community can be the result of public awareness efforts that inform repair businesses, scrap metal dealers, and car owners about the dangers of catalytic converter theft and how to avoid being a victim.

  • Collaboration with Scrap Metal Dealers: Enhancing efforts to detect and report suspicious transactions can be achieved through fostering collaboration between law enforcement and scrap metal traders. Encouraging compliance and establishing clear reporting processes can enhance this partnership.

  • Technology-Based Solutions: Investigating technological options, such as creating anti-theft gadgets tailored to catalytic converters, can provide an additional safeguard. Some examples of such devices are alarms and shields, but they can also contain other cutting-edge technology that makes theft more difficult.

  • Community Watch Programs: The formation or improvement of community watch programs might bring about a group of watchful citizens who will report any suspicious behavior. Theft prevention and law enforcement’s ability to respond quickly can both benefit greatly from this cooperative strategy.

The economic and safety consequences of catalytic converter thefts are significant for both companies and individuals; states and communities can take action to reduce this crime by using a mix of these anti-theft measures.


States have been compelled to take decisive action in response to the widespread problem of catalytic converter theft by passing protective legislation that attempts to defend consumers and the environment. The level of legislative fortification varies across the country, with some states having already passed extensive measures and others actively working to strengthen their current legislation.

One piece of legislation that deserves attention is the federal Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act. It can provide a coordinated approach to combating the theft of catalytic converters. The importance of working together to address this complex issue is highlighted by the PART Act’s focus on cooperation between federal and state authorities.

Everyone from businesses to law enforcement must stay knowledgeable and on top of legislation about catalytic converters. Keeping up with the ever-changing laws allows for a proactive approach to fighting theft, which aids in both preventing it and successfully prosecuting those responsible for it. With the ever-changing regulations surrounding catalytic converter theft, we all must work together to raise awareness and combat this criminal activity.

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