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US law cracks down on autocatalyst crime

The US has introduced the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft Act to fight catalytic converter thefts. Each converter will be given a traceable identification number and the law establishes converter theft as a crime. 

The legislation was proposed by senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden and comes after Reuters reported US authorities took down a ‘massive’ nationwide autocatalyst theft ring at the start of November.

The case involves thousands of stolen converters and 21 suspects operating out of Sacramento and Tulsa were arrested. The recovered assets are said to be worth millions. Charges cover transporting and receiving stolen goods across state lines and conspiring to commit money laundering.

‘Throughout the country, we’ve seen an alarming increase in catalytic converter thefts,’ Klobuchar says. Such converters are easily removed from unattended cars but are expensive to replace. ‘We need to provide law enforcement officers with the tools and resources they need to crack down on these crimes,’ she adds.

‘The theft of catalytic converters hurts the pocketbooks of working families and small business owners already struggling with rising costs,’ Wyden says. ‘By strengthening local law enforcement’s ability to locate stolen car parts, we will be one step closer in the fight to end catalytic converter theft.’

The new act:

  • Requires new vehicles to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) stamped on the converter to allow law enforcement officers to match stolen parts to vehicles
  • Creates a grant programme for stamping VINs onto the converters of existing vehicles
  • Imposes record keeping standards for buyers of used catalytic converters
  • Establishes enforceability of laws by codifying such theft as a criminal offence.

The law has the support of many industry groups including the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Automotive Recyclers Association, the National Insurance Crime Bureau as well as the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program.

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