Senators introduce PART Act to combat rising catalytic converter thefts

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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and JD Vance (R-OH) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to combat the rise in catalytic converter thefts.

The Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act would ensure that law enforcement can more effectively address these thefts by marking each converter with a traceable identification number and establishing converter thefts as a criminal offense. Catalytic converters are required for compliance with federal emissions laws but are costly for car owners to replace once stolen.

“Throughout the country, we’ve seen an alarming increase in catalytic converter thefts. These converters can be easily taken from unattended cars but are difficult and expensive for car owners to replace,” said Klobuchar. “By making catalytic converter theft a criminal offense and ensuring each converter can be easily tracked, our bipartisan legislation would provide law enforcement officers with the tools and resources they need to crack down on these crimes.”

“Catalytic converter theft is becoming a serious problem for Hoosiers, and we need action to crack down on this crime. This bipartisan bill will crack down on catalytic converter theft by making it a criminal offense and requiring new vehicles to have a Vehicle Identification Number stamped onto the converter to help law enforcement track stolen parts back to their owners,” said Braun.

“The theft of catalytic converters has soared in Oregon and across the nation, costing working families and small business owners valuable time and money,” said Wyden. “This bill will bring us one step closer to solving this problem by strengthening local law enforcement’s ability to locate stolen car parts and address these thefts as a criminal offense.”

“This legislation offers a commonsense solution to the rampant problem of catalytic converter theft. In Ohio, our law enforcement community is reporting these crimes at a shocking frequency and small businesses are being forced to incur preventative costs. I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues and provide our law enforcement with some much-needed assistance to get this problem under control,” said Vance.

Catalytic converters are used to reduce the potency of toxic emissions from an internal combustion engine and required for vehicle compliance with the Clean Air Act. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter thefts rose by over 325 percent from 2019 to 2020. Replacing these parts imposes significant financial costs to vehicle owners, often between $500 to $2,300 and can even result in a total loss to the vehicle.

The PART Act would:

• Require new vehicles to have a Vehicle Identification number (VIN) stamped onto the converter to allow law enforcement officers to link stolen parts to the vehicle from which they originate;
• Create a grant program through which entities can stamp VIN numbers onto catalytic converters of existing vehicles;
• Improve record keeping standards for purchasers of used catalytic converters; and
• Establish enforceability of laws around catalytic converter theft by codifying these crimes as a criminal offense.

Representatives Jim Baird (R-IN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), and Michael Guest (R-MS) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The bill has received the endorsement of the National Automobile Dealers Association, the American Truck Dealers (ATD), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the National RV Dealers Association (RVDA), the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NSVRP), NTEA — The Association for the Work Truck Industry, the NAFA Fleet Management Association, the Elite Catering and Event Professionals (ECEP), and American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

“Catalytic converter theft has been increasing exponentially in Minnesota and across the country, hitting both businesses and consumers alike,” said Scott Lambert, President of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association. “The current patchwork of state legislation leaves too many loopholes for criminals to exploit. Dealers across Minnesota thank Sen. Klobuchar for reintroducing the PART Act which will give law enforcement more tools to catch and charge criminals stealing catalytic converters.”

As a former prosecutor, Klobuchar has led efforts to prevent automobile-related crimes. Last April, she convened a roundtable with Minnesota law enforcement leaders to discuss ways to crack down on violent carjacking crimes. The same month, she urged the U.S. Department of Justice to prioritize resources for state and local law enforcement to address increases in carjackings.