Directs State Police To Ramp Up Enforcement, Increase Interstate Coordination, and Partner with Law Enforcement in High-Theft Areas
Legislation (S.9428/ A.1940-E) To Impose Restrictions on Purchase, Sale, Possession of Catalytic Converters
Urges Local Governments To Access $20 Million in Funding for License Plate Readers, Surveillance Cameras, Other Anti-Theft Technology
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced new actions to increase interagency vehicle and catalytic converter theft enforcements in high-theft areas by targeting unauthorized and illegal vehicle dismantlers, or "chop shops." The Governor also signed legislation (S.9428/ A.1940-E) to combat the theft of catalytic converters, which imposes restrictions on the purchase, sale, and possession of catalytic converters by vehicle dismantlers and scrap processers.
"Public safety is my top priority, and we're taking an aggressive, targeted approach to deter criminals from stealing catalytic converters," Governor Hochul said. "Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed across our state and nation, and these comprehensive actions double down on our efforts to keep New Yorkers and their property safe, protecting our communities and cracking down on crime."
Catalytic converters are a key piece of a vehicle's exhaust system, breaking down pollutants like smog that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Theft of catalytic converters is costly to auto dealers, as well as the driving public. It can cost a dealer $2,000 to $3,000 to replace a stolen converter in order to fix damage to a vehicle's undercarriage, fuel line, and electric lines in the process of a theft.
Interagency cooperation and enforcement are key to addressing this statewide issue. New York State Police and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles are directed to leverage their existing partnerships with local, state, and federal law enforcement to increase investigations and crackdowns in high-theft areas. These investigations often involved organized theft operations that cross state lines.
In New York City, the New York Police Department initially reported that catalytic converter thefts have almost quadrupled in 2022. There have been 5,548 catalytic converter thefts in the city as of August 14, in comparison to 1,505 thefts during the same period in 2021.
Catalytic converter thefts in Nassau County are reportedly up 248 percent so far this year. There are also nearly three times as many catalytic converter thefts so far this year in Suffolk County. According to reports, last year in Nassau County, 445 catalytic converters were stolen, and this year a total of 1,549 converters were stolen. In Suffolk County, 289 converters were stolen in 2021 and 819 so far this year in 2022.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts increased from roughly 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021 - an increase of roughly 1,215 percent from 2019.
These comprehensive actions double down on our efforts to keep New Yorkers and their property safe, protecting our communities and cracking down on crime.
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "We have been working diligently on several fronts to address this issue of catalytic converter thefts. We are working closely with our partners in law enforcement and the auto dealership industry to address these thefts by distributing etching kits. We have held and will continue to hold press conferences across New York State to raise awareness among consumers and educate them on ways to safeguard their vehicles against these thefts."
New York State Police First Deputy Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, "We appreciate the Governor's support in addressing this growing problem. The State Police is fully engaged with our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal level, and is committed to providing the resources necessary to bring down the criminal organizations that are responsible for the spike in auto and catalytic converter thefts."
Catalytic Converter Theft Bill
The Governor signed legislation (S.9428/ A.1940-E), which amends the Vehicle and Traffic Law to add catalytic converters as a major component vehicle part, which will require vehicle dismantlers to maintain records of them. Every 60 days, those businesses must report the number of catalytic converters received during that period. Failing to maintain or produce those records upon request is a Class A misdemeanor and could include monetary penalties of up to double the amount made in taking in allegedly stolen converter components. In addition, new motor vehicle dealers and other qualified dealers will be required to stock catalytic converter etching kits to put a unique serial number on the components so that they can be tracked back if they are stolen. Those kits will be provided at no more than the cost of the kit itself.
State Senator Diane Savino said, "I wish to thank Governor Hochul, my Assembly Colleague and bill sponsor Assemblywoman Buttenschon, and Senators Addabbo and Kennedy for all their help with this critical legislation. Fortunately, most people do not need to know what a catalytic converter is -- unless you try driving a car and you do not have one. What we are doing here is cracking down on catalytic converter thefts, requiring catalytic converters to be added to the list of component parts that have to be reported, and also imposing new controls on scrap metal dealers, scrap processors, and others, and itinerant dealers, so that we can get at this problem. Again, I thank the Governor and my colleagues for their leadership - this is a national problem, and I am proud New York is leading the way to prevent catalytic converter theft."
Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing A 1940e today that will give law enforcement and the DMV more resources and tools to protect our community. This legislation will ensure necessary record-keeping and documentation for catalytic converters to help prevent thieves from reselling the materials."
Eric Tenner, victim of catalytic converter theft in Huntington, said, "As a victim of catalytic converter theft right outside my home, I am proud to stand with Governor Hochul as she strengthens efforts to combat this issue. This swift action is exactly the kind of leadership we need, and I am grateful to all who had a hand in making today happen. Together we can help our communities feel safer and more secure."
The Governor also announced $20 million is available to help local police departments and sheriffs' offices invest in new technologies to solve, reduce, and prevent crime. In mid-December, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services will seek applications for technology requests, including license plate readers, mobile and fixed surveillance cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, gunshot detection devices, smart equipment for patrol vehicles and officers, and other kinds of public safety equipment. To inform this procurement, DCJS has issued a request for information to obtain feedback from police departments and sheriffs' offices on the types of technology they need; the agency will accept responses through November 18, 2022.
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