DMV unveils new effort to curtail catalytic converter thefts

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — More officials are warning of a spike in catalytic converter thefts, this time the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

The DMV also announced Thursday a new initiative intended to help law enforcement track stolen catalytic converters and deter thefts: A process that allows auto dealers to etch a traceable serial number onto the catalytic converter that can be clearly seen and quickly linked back to the vehicle it was stolen off of.

The auto part is targeted by criminals because it contains valuable metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium, which have only become more valuable in recent years.

Thieves can get $200 to $500 for the precious metals in the converters, but it can cost $2,000 to $3,000 for drivers to get their car repaired once it’s stolen. The process of detaching a catalytic converter can also cause damage to the surrounding exhaust system, undercarriage fuel line and electric lines, which can result in repair bills of $5,000 to $10,000.

The DMV and other organizations are distributing thousands of etching kits to dealers in the hopes of addressing the issue.

Catalytic converter thefts have increasingly been an issue since early 2021. Locally, many businesses’ fleets were targeted and several arrests were made.

Monroe County took the issue into its own hands back in September, passing a law that required scrapyards to implement more checks before accepting catalytic converters or paying for them. It was vetoed by County Executive Adam Bello at first, citing concerns that it would push the profits and crime to other counties that didn’t have the law. The Legislature overrode his veto.