YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio lawmakers and Congress are looking at ways to stem the catalytic converter theft crisis in the U.S.
Ohio House Bill 408 would ban the sale of catalytic converters on vehicles without proof of ownership and Congress is considering the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act, which would require auto manufacturers to fit all new vehicles with traceable catalytic converters. Both bills are in committee.
If passed, the PART ACT promises to thwart thieves. It’s got the backing of Ohio Attorney General David Yost and Senator JD Vance.
But some in the scrapping business aren’t so sure that either measure will work. Rebel Mead is president of operations at Kanect Recycling, which operates scrap recycling in Ashtabula and Warren and in Greenville, Pennsylvania. He is skeptical of how well the tracers will work.
“If it’s a tracer, it can just be removed if it was stolen, which would be no problem. It’s going to cost more for the public to purchase. The Fords and GMs aren’t going to eat that money. We are going to eat that money. So, who is it really helping?” Mead said.
Mead said the real problem is people who are buying the converters illegally and the lack of what he calls a breakdown in law enforcement to crack down on those buyers. He said Illegal buying is a word-of-mouth trade, and it’s on social media, too. Thieves know where they can take their stolen converters and get cash with no paper trail. He said a legitimate scrapper may not know if a converter is stolen, but they have a paper trail of where it came from and who sold it.
“They only enact laws that only restrict law-abiding companies. They refuse to go after or enforce the current laws of those breaking current laws,” Mead said. “Let’s say you scrap your car. Your car has two converters on it from the factory. You take it in and because you are public, we can only buy one of them. But wait, it comes with two of them. Yeah, you are going to have to take it to another scrap yard or you will have to come back. People don’t want to do that. You know what they will do? They will sell to a guy that is going to pay them in cash with no receipts,” Mead said.
The PART Act would require The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise the motor vehicle theft prevention standard for new motor vehicles to include catalytic converters among the parts that require an inscribed or affixed identifying number.
The DOT would also have to establish a grant program so law enforcement and other agencies can stamp vehicle identification numbers onto catalytic converters of existing vehicles.
It also sets criminal penalties for the theft of catalytic converters or any precious metals removed from a vehicle.