Senate Bill 986, a measure authored by State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) and Senator Tom Umberg (D – Santa Ana) to combat catalytic converter theft, unanimously passed the Assembly Transportation Committee.
SB 986 tackles catalytic converter theft by requiring dealers to apply a vehicle identification number (VIN) to the catalytic converter of each vehicle listed for sale and is supported by the California District Attorneys Association and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore.
“For whatever reason, car part thieves are perceived as empty-headed. The reality, however, is that catalytic converter theft can be quite lucrative. This bill is an important step forward in protecting California consumers, aiding our law enforcement agencies with enforcement, and continuing to crack down on illegal and environmentally-degrading car-part and vehicle disposal. We owe it to our communities to be more responsible, as a state, in regulating these illegal activities,” stated Senator Umberg.
An imprinted serial number relating to the unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) identifies most major parts of vehicles sold in the United States. It is these identification markings that allow law enforcement to establish that parts are stolen, even if the stolen vehicle has already been fully broken down. However, this serial number identification process does not currently apply to catalytic converters. As a result, law enforcement may make arrests of individuals in possession of dozens or even hundreds of suspect catalytic converters — but be unable to prove a case in court because there is no way to identify the victims of crime to show that these parts are stolen. The application of a VIN to a catalytic converter is usually done by etching, in a process that is both easy and inexpensive.
Senate Bill 986 will require dealers to mark the catalytic converters of vehicles up for sale. The measure will also require core recyclers to record the unique identification number on each catalytic converter. Under SB 986, the core recycler’s obligation will only be relieved if the used catalytic converter, that was purchased or sold under a specified written agreement, is described with sufficient particularity. Upon request from local law enforcement, the burden will fall on the core recycler to prove that the catalytic converter was purchased under the specified written agreement.
“I am proud to see SB 986 make it through the Assembly Natural Resources Committee,” stated Senator Portantino. “This bill is a common sense and simple solution to catalytic converter theft, a crime that has been on the rise in recent years and is affecting too many families in the 25th State Senate District and across the state.”
“CDAA congratulates Senators Umberg and Portantino on SB 986 passing Senate Business and Professions Committee,” stated Greg Totten, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association. “This common-sense bill will give law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to address the crime of catalytic converter theft. Catalytic converter theft is on the rise and our current statutes are insufficient to address the problem. This bill requires marking the VIN number on the catalytic converter, which will enable law enforcement to identify the victim if the catalytic converter is ever stolen. Additionally, it imposes reasonable requirements on core recyclers to make it harder to sell stolen catalytic converters. We applaud Senators Umberg and Portantino.”
SB 986 will next be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, June 28th.