The Republican majority of the Nassau County Legislature has introduced a law to put an end to catalytic converter thefts from cars.
It’s a crime that is increasing across the nations. Catalytic converters are being stolen right off of cars, and it happens in a matter of a few seconds.
The parts needed to clean vehicles’ exhausts are very valuable.
“They want what’s inside the converter, that honeycomb briquette that actually has the precious metals inside,” John Tirpin, of TNT Automotive in New Hyde Park, has stated, as per a CBS2 report.
In Nassau County, there were 40 thefts reported in 2021 and the numbers have gone up to 348 in 2022.
“Three hundred and forty-eight families have gotten up and tried to start their day taking their kids to school, and it’s ruined because some guy is going to cut it out of the bottom of the car for $250,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Thieves may only get $250, but it costs victims thousands. The thefts occur by a shortage and demand for metals, which can be sold on the black market.
A catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and it converts the engine exhaust to less hazardous gases and uses valuable metals to do so. Catalytic converters can contain platinum, palladium, or rhodium, which make them prime targets for thieves since they can sell the metals for scrap.
The car will still run without a catalytic converter, but it will not be able to pass a yearly inspection.
“My mechanic this morning gave me a brochure from a black market guy, it’s actually in black, and it’s got a shopping list for thieves,” Village of Upper Brookville Mayor Elliot Conway said.
Nassau lawmakers will soon make it harder for thieves to profit. The law makes it compulsory to keep a few records such as scrap metal purchases in the current year, the model of the car, and the VIN number.
Businesses will be required to keep these records for five years of the purchase date. These records must be made available for inspection upon request by the Nassau County Police Department and Consumer Affairs.
“The scrap metal dealers will not be able to accept these catalytic converters unless there is authenticity as to where it came from, so it limits the market for where these thieves can sell these catalytic converters,” said Richard Nicolello, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature.
Penalties include fines and imprisonment. Police say taking away the incentive behind what’s now an easy crime can reverse the trend.
Police say it takes 90 seconds for a thief to get under the car in the middle of the night and do the damage. Toyotas, Lexus, and Hondas are most at risk.
Toyota Priuses are also common targets because they have two converters. Affected cars tend to be parked on streets or in parking lots. Thieves have even stolen from the new vehicles in car lots.
Police advised car owners to pull into the driveway, install motion lights and lock up, warning that thieves will steal cars just for the catalytic converter.
Nassau lawmakers say they will ask Suffolk and New York City officials to consider similar measures to deter the thefts to make it a regional approach.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there are steps people can take to help deter catalytic converter theft:
- Always park in well-lit areas.
- Make sure your car’s alarm is activated when it’s parked.
- For businesses with multiple vehicles, park them in well-lit and secured lots.
- Have a mechanic install a catalytic converter anti-theft device, or have them weld the catalytic converter to the body of your vehicle.