California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two new bills into law that will make it harder to steal and later sell catalytic converters.
Catalytic converter theft is a growing problem across the country.
“What the combination of bills is trying to do that the governor signed is to sort of dry out the black market for catalytic converters," said Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, (R) 35th District.
The new California laws, SB 1087and AB 1740, work in different ways. One requires scrap metal recyclers or junkyards to keep a detailed record of sales. The other makes it illegal to buy the parts from anyone other than a licensed dealer, auto specialist, or vehicle owner.
"That's those brokers and those middlemen, who pay top dollar for stolen parts. You take away the market for stolen goods, you can help cut down on stealing. It's not much more complicated than that," Governor Gavin Newsom said on Twitter.
State lawmakers say it’s a step in the right direction.
“More tracking, banning cash payments, and then requiring the recyclers, the scrappers, the junkyard, what have you, to keep the paper trail — I think we can cut down on the black market for catalytic converter theft and resale and I think that will drive down the number of thefts," Cunningham said.
"I think this will provide a de-incentive for that crime to continue because it's going to put a penalty on those that can purchase the catalytic converters," said Congressman Salud Carbajal, (D) 24th District.
In April, KSBY reported on the local areas hit hardest by catalytic converter thefts in 2021. Those were unincorporated Santa Barbara County with 285 reported thefts, the City of Paso Robles with 175 reports, the City of San Luis Obispo with 170 reports, and the City of Santa Maria with 160 reports from mid-September 2021 to mid-March 2022.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, California leads the nation with the most catalytic converter thefts in 2021, accounting for 37% of all thefts.
The most targeted vehicles are hybrids and trucks made by Toyota, Honda, and Ford.