California Catalyst Heists Worst in Country: Roadshow

Q: Regarding the new catalytic converter recycling law to prevent catalytic converter theft, what prevents the recycler from simply ignoring the law and continuing to buy stolen catalytic converters without completing the paperwork? … I see nothing in the law preventing this. Am I missing something? There was a similar law before and it didn’t work. …Here is a simplified solution. Attach a motion sensor with an on/off switch to a truck horn under the car to activate it when parked. Everyone in the world will know someone is under your vehicle. This costs less than $100, but a converter costs around $2000. …Can manufacturers take steps to make catalyst removal more difficult? Could dealers optionally offer anti-theft measures (including VIN etching)? Have they already? It seems that taking action earlier in the process might be more effective than leaving it up to each individual. …We need tougher enforcement on these thieves.

Sung Chew, Joe Sindorf, Michael Babcock and many more

A: Yes we do. A national catalyst theft ring that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue was removed in a state probe last month.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the operation involved arrests, searches and seizures in nine states: California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.

Twenty-one defendants were indicted on two counts in the Eastern District of California and the Northern District of Oklahoma, federal officials said.

The operation, coordinated by the Justice Department, is the first national arrest of a catalyst-theft ring. Federal authorities estimate that DG Auto Parts in New Jersey sold more than $545 million worth of precious metal powders that it processed from catalytic converters.