New laws clamp down on catalytic converter theft

Sep 28, 2022

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed new laws designed to curb the rise in stolen catalytic converters. The two bills, AB 1740 (Muratsuchi) and SB 1087 (Gonzalez), were strongly supported by the League of California Cities. The laws go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The measures define who may sell and purchase catalytic converters, ensure that the sellers are the verifiable owners of the part’s vehicle, and require a traceable payment method for transactions. The measures also include fines and penalties for those convicted of knowingly and willfully violating these requirements.

AB 1740 and SB 1087 were two of Cal Cities’ top legislative priorities. These new laws are intended to disincentivize black market operations and dissuade further theft. Even before COVID-19 and rising inflation, most families could not afford to replace a stolen catalytic converter. A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau found that owners pay $1,000 to $3,000 out of pocket to fix their vehicles.

The bills are two of the roughly dozen measures introduced by California lawmakers to combat the dramatic spike in stolen catalytic converters. According to AAA data, catalytic converter theft claims are up more than 1,000% since 2019.

In 2021, California made up almost one-third of all catalytic converter claims in the United States made to State Farm, with the insurance company spending $23 million on 9,057 catalytic converter theft claims.

Increasing guardrails and accountability for offenders is one of many strategies supported by Cal Cities when addressing crime and its underlying causes. However, catalytic converter theft, while significant, is only part of an overall rise in crime.

In the coming legislative session, Cal Cities will explore additional strategies to address the impacts of crime in California's communities. This may include resources to improve community safety through prevention and early intervention programming, as well as improved re-entry services for formerly incarcerated community members.

For more information, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Elisa Arcidiacono.