Hawaii’s Successful Catalytic Converter Theft Law Offers A National Model For Consumer Protection
News Release from Consumer Choice Center, Oct 17, 2023
COLUMBUS, OHIO – In 2022, consumers nationwide suffered close to 153,000 catalytic converter thefts from the undercarriage of their vehicles. This vital piece of a car’s exhaust system is composed of a variety of precious metals including platinum and palladium. With a resale value of anywhere from $200 to $1500, thieves have taken full advantage while state and local governments have moved to catch up with the black market trade.
As of this month, Hawaii may have cracked the code for bringing this particular crime to a halt. After attempting to curb thefts by elevating the activity to a felony, law enforcement found that these cases were still hard to prove. Hawaii then passed Act 88, which required ID, signed statements by the seller, and a longer holding period by auto shops before reselling catalytic converters.
“Nobody likes paperwork, especially criminals,” says Stephen Kent, media director for the Consumer Choice Center. “A 95 percent decrease in catalytic converter thefts is a huge mark of success for consumer protection in Hawaii, and the more states that adopt this approach – the better.”
Catalytic converter theft goes far beyond petty crime. In 2022 the Department of Justice dropped the hammer on a $545 million nationwide catalytic converter theft ring. Consumers nationwide have felt the sting, as converters often cost hundreds to replace.
“It’s tempting to settle for more stringent sentencing and felony classifications on any crime you’re looking to reduce, but the fact is, criminals don’t sit around reading about updates to sentencing guidelines for certain crimes. Making it harder for criminals to make quick money on stolen goods works fast,” continued Kent.
The Consumer Choice Center applauds the state of Hawaii and lawmakers who helped advance the cause of consumer protection with smart legislation to reduce catalytic converter theft. Now in Ohio, legislators are considering HB 408 which would ban the sale of converters without seller identification, and proof of ownership for the vehicle the part is sourced from.
We call on Ohio state lawmakers to advance this legislation through the House Criminal Justice Committee with a sense of urgency.
“HB 408 has close to two dozen sponsors in the Ohio statehouse. For the sake of consumers and drivers across the state, the baton needs to be carried forward so that the rampant theft of catalytic converters in Ohio can be brought to an end,” says Stephen Kent of the Consumer Choice Center, “Like in Hawaii, this might be as simple as adding some paperwork to the process.”
Oct 13, 2023: Catalytic converter theft drops dramatically with new law
Jalponik: Hawaii Figured Out How To Stop Catalytic Converter Theft, Why Hasn’t Your State?