Photo of Senator Cassano.

State Senator

Steve Cassano

Representing Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury & Manchester

Senate Passes Bill to Combat Catalytic Converter Theft


HARTFORD – In response to catalytic converter thefts surging in Connecticut and across the country, the state Senate this afternoon passed a bipartisan and comprehensive anti-catalytic converter theft bill designed to kill the criminal market for stolen catalytic converters.

Senate Bill 256, "AN ACT CONCERNING THE PURCHASE OR RECEIPT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS BY MOTOR VEHICLE RECYCLERS, SCRAP METAL PROCESSORS AND JUNK DEALERS," was passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

"In recent years, catalytic converter theft has become a pervasive issue not only statewide but nationwide," said State Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester), who voted in support of the bill. "This bill effectively prevents the theft of these automotive parts from becoming lucrative for criminals by restricting the market for them. It's an important step toward reducing the frequency of these thefts and protecting vehicle owners from headaches in the future."

About half the states in America have already passed or are considering passing new bills pertaining to catalytic converter theft, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Like other states, Connecticut's bill attempts to kill the market for stolen catalytic converters so thieves have no incentive to steal them in the first place.

Senate Bill 256 accomplishes this in several ways, affecting both vehicle recycling companies and junk yards. Under the bill:

  • Motor vehicle recyclers in Connecticut cannot take a catalytic converter from a customer unless:
  • It is physically attached to a motor vehicle;
  • The recycler affixes or writes a stock number on the part, and creates a written record of the transaction, including the name, address, telephone number and license number and automobile VIN number of the customer.
  • For scrap metal processors, junk dealers and junk yards, they cannot accept a catalytic converter that is not attached to a motor vehicle unless:
  • They record the place and date of the transaction, a description of the catalytic converter, and the amount paid;
  • Records a description of the seller and the seller's name, address and driver's license number;
  • Affixes or writes a stock number on the catalytic converter;
  • Records the license number plate number of the motor vehicle that was used to transport the catalytic converter;
  • Obtains from the seller a statement that they own the catalytic converter;
  • Takes a photograph or video of the seller and their driver's license;
  • Sellers may sell only one catalytic converter per day to a scrap metal dealer;
  • Scrap metal processors and junk dealers can only pay a seller by check, which is mailed to their home address;
  • Scrap metal processors and junk dealers have to electronically submit all of their catalytic converter sales information to state police once a week.

If approved by the legislature and signed into law, Connecticut's catalytic converter theft bill would take effect on July 1.

As precious metals prices soar, catalytic converter thefts have increased all across America. Catalytic converters contain the precious metals rhodium, palladium and platinum, and prices for those precious metals have increased 123% to 1,100% since 2018. For example, rhodium, which was selling for $1,850 an ounce in 2018, has been selling for $20,250 an ounce in 2022. 90 percent of the world's rhodium is used in automobile catalytic converters, where it is used to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in exhaust gases that are emitted out the tailpipe and into the atmosphere.

As precious metals prices have spiked, so have catalytic converter thefts. Thefts were up 326% nationally from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), an industry association set up to combat insurance fraud. Catalytic converter thefts then jumped another 293% nationwide from mid-2020 to mid-2021, according to the State Farm insurance company.

The NICB says the rise in catalytic converter thefts has been driven not only by the rise in precious metals prices, but by the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years. People lost income after being laid-off or reduced to working part-time, more people were working at home and leaving their parked outside, and supply chain disruptions caused shortages of already rare precious metals. It only takes a few minutes for criminals with simple tools to steal a catalytic converter that may bring them $150 cash at a junkyard, but which can cost a car owner several hundred to several thousand dollars to replace, depending on their insurance.

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