SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills that are aimed at cracking down on catalytic converter thefts, which have been rising in California and across the country over the last few years. 

Newsom announced Sunday on social media that he signed AB 1740 and SB 1087, both of which place restrictions on the sale of catalytic converters.

“By some studies, catalytic converter theft has increased some tenfold,” Newsom said in a video on social media. “Ten (times) just since 2018.”  

A catalytic converter, located underneath cars, is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system. It changes harmful compounds from your engines’ emissions into safer gases before they’re released into the air. Without it working properly, your car won’t pass a smog check, which is needed to register your vehicle in California. 

The components of catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, all of which have increased in value over the last few years. 

What is AB 1740?

AB 1740 — introduced by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance — requires recyclers to record the year, make, and model of the vehicle from which a catalytic converter was removed. The legislation also bans those same recyclers from purchasing a catalytic converter from anyone other than a licensed commercial business or the owner of the vehicle.

“California is doing what we do best and that’s trying to be on the forefront of trying to solve for this,” Newsom said. “We’re going to get to the root cause at least one of the root causes of this crime and that’s those brokers and those middlemen who pay top dollar for stolen parts.”

What is SB 1087?

SB 1087 — introduced by State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach — restricts the purchase of a detached catalytic converter unless it’s bought from the vehicle owner, dealer, auto repair specialist, automobile manufacturer, or any other licensed business. 

A violation can amount to a fine between $1,000 to $5,000.

“People who buy and sell these parts now have to keep detailed records so we can better trace thefts if indeed they do occur,” Newsom said. “You take away the market for stolen goods, you can help cut down on stealing… it’s just another example of how we’re leaning in to reduce crime in this state and keep Californians safe.”  

Catalytic converter thefts in California

Catalytic converter thefts have seen a “significant increase” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). 

Data from the NICB lists California as the top target for converter thefts. 

According to Carfax, here are the 10 most targeted vehicles on the West Coast

  • 2001-21 Toyota Prius
  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series
  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2007-20 Subaru Outback
  • 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
  • 2003-11 Honda Element
  • 1998-2020 Subaru Forester