Cathy Osten


Cathy Osten



April 4, 2022

Public Safety Committee Passes Comprehensive Catalytic Converter Theft Bill

HARTFORD – As catalytic converter thefts surge in Connecticut and across the country, the legislature’s Public Safety Committee has passed a bipartisan and comprehensive anti-catalytic converter theft bill designed to kill the criminal market for stolen catalytic converters.

Senate Bill 256, “AN ACT CONCERNING THE PURCHASE OR RECEIPT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS BY MOTOR VEHICLE RECYCLERS, SCRAP METAL PROCESSORS AND JUNK DEALERS,” was passed on a bipartisan and unanimous basis in committee last week and now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. The legislature is due to adjourn for the year on May 4.

“The pandemic has really brought about a number of changes in criminal activity over the past two years, in Connecticut and across the country. Drunken driving has increased, as have pedestrian deaths, deaths from fentanyl overdoses, motor vehicle thefts are up across the country and so are catalytic converter thefts. So we had to do something about it,” said Sen. Osten, who is Senate Chair of the Public Safety Committee. “Short of standing outside and watching your car 24 hours a day, the answer to catalytic converter thefts is to kill the market for their illegal sale. Criminals aren’t going to steal something they can’t sell, and this bill makes it nearly impossible to sell a stolen catalytic converter. Or, you may steal and sell a few, but the police will easily identify and catch up to you. I think this is going to be a game-changer for the public.”

About half the states in America have already passed or are considering passing new bills pertaining to catalytic converter theft, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Like other states, Connecticut’s bill attempts to kill the market for stolen catalytic converters so thieves have no incentive to steal them in the first place.

Senate Bill 256 accomplishes this in several ways, affecting both vehicle recycling companies and junk yards. Under the bill:

  • Motor vehicle recyclers in Connecticut cannot take a catalytic converter from a customer unless it is physically attached to a motor vehicle.
  • That recycler then cannot re-sell that catalytic converter until they etch on to it the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle it came off of.
  • For scrap metal processors, junk dealers and junk yards, they cannot accept a catalytic converter that is not attached to a motor vehicle unless:
    1. They record the place and date of the transaction, a description of the catalytic converter, and the amount paid;
    2. Record a description of the seller and the seller’s name, address and driver’s license number;
    3. Record the license number plate number of the motor vehicle that was used to transport the catalytic converter;
    4. Obtains from the seller a statement that they own the catalytic converter;
    5. Takes a photograph or video of the seller and their driver’s license;
    6. Sellers may sell only one catalytic converter per day to a scrap metal dealer;
    7. Scrap metal processors and junk dealers can only pay a seller by check, which is mailed to their home address;
    8. Scrap metal processors and junk dealers have to electronically submit all of their catalytic converter sales information to state police once a week.

If approved by the legislature and signed into law, Connecticut’s catalytic converter theft bill would take effect on July 1.

As precious metals prices soar, catalytic converter thefts have increased all across America. Catalytic converters contain the precious metals rhodium, palladium and platinum, and prices for those precious metals have increased 123% to 1,100% since 2018. For example, rhodium, which was selling for $1,850 an ounce in 2018, has been selling for $20,250 an ounce in 2022. 90 percent of the world’s rhodium is used in automobile catalytic converters, where it is used to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in exhaust gases that are emitted out the tailpipe and into the atmosphere.

As precious metals prices have spiked, so have catalytic converter thefts. Thefts were up 326% nationally from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), an industry association set up to combat insurance fraud. Catalytic converter thefts then jumped another 293% nationwide from mid-2020 to mid-2021, according to the State Farm insurance company. Catalytic converter thefts soared so high in Texas and Indiana that legislators there made catalytic converter theft a felony.

The NICB says the rise in catalytic converter thefts has been driven not only by the rise in precious metals prices, but by the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years. People lost income after being laid-off or reduced to working part-time, more people were working at home and leaving their parked outside, and supply chain disruptions caused shortages of already rare precious metals. It only takes a few minutes for criminals with simple tools to steal a catalytic converter that may bring them $150 cash at a junkyard, but which can cost a car owner several hundred to several thousand dollars to replace, depending on their insurance.