The surge in catalytic converter thefts has the city of Santa Monica taking action with a new law.
The law fines people $500 for possessing unattached catalytic converters without proof of ownership — and allows police to seize them.
“It’s shocking when you think about it just how many are being stolen,” Santa Monica Police Department Lt. Erika Alfufi said.
The city says catalytic converter thefts have risen steadily since 2020, reaching 312 last year and already 215 so far this year – on pace to reach 400.
“These catalytic converters contain precious metals that are worth more per once than the price of gold,” Auto Club of Southern California spokesman Dough Shupe said.
Until now, police said, there were no laws that enabled them to get stolen catalytic converters back to their owners. They urged the city of Santa Monica to pass the new law, which is modeled after the one passed by the Los Angeles City Council last April.
Oscar de la Torre is one of the thousands of Southern Californians who have had their catalytic converters stolen. He’s also a member of the Santa Monica city council and voted for the new law.
De la Torre said he had to sell his disabled car because it cost too much to repair.
“These thieves not only took my catalytic converter; they took transportation away from my family,” he said.
To prevent theft, police recommend having a vehicle identification number etched onto catalytic converters, to have cages installed around them, and to report suspicious activity.
Source: NBC Los Angeles