Kaplan urges Hochul to sign bill to curb catalytic converter thefts

Robert Pelaez

September 27, 2022

Originally published in The Island 360 on September 27, 2022.

State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign legislation aimed at prohibiting the sale of catalytic converters by dismantlers and scrap processors into law Monday.

Nearly 1,300 catalytic converters have been stolen throughout Nassau County since the beginning of the year, compared to just 131 last year, officials from the Nassau County Police Department said during a meeting of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association several weeks ago. Catalytic converters use a chamber to transform harmful engine emissions into safe gases before they get released in the air.

The legislation, which has been passed in the state Assembly and Senate, would impose restrictions on selling catalytic converters and require all qualified dealerships to carry etching kits to offer to anyone purchasing a new vehicle.

“We need to give our law enforcement the tools and resources they need, and while I’ve been proud to deliver more funding to our police to help them keep our community safe, we can still do more to address the theft of catalytic converters in our community,” Kaplan, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

Etching kits allow for a catalytic converter to be marked so that it makes it more difficult for thieves to resale the converter to other dealers. While it is illegal to resell catalytic converters, Det. Sgt. Jeffrey Raymond, the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s Burglary Pattern Crime Squad, said the precious metals found in catalytic converters — rhodium, platinum and palladium — can be worth significant money.

According to a report from Kitco.com, one of the world’s largest precious metal retailers, the price of rhodium is more than $12,000 per ounce, with palladium coming in at more than $2,000 per ounce and platinum worth nearly $900 per ounce as of July. The report said that the price of those precious metals has increased since the start of the 21st century. Other reports have credited the overall rise in stolen converters to how easy it is for individuals to steal them.

The legislation will also ensure necessary record-keeping and documentation for catalytic converter owners and dealerships who sell them is properly filed to help prevent thieves from reselling the materials. Various fines will be enacted if the required documentation is not filed properly.

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