Catalytic converter theft is rampant in California, costing victims as much as $4,000 in repairs. In 2021, 1,600 converters were stolen each month, resulting in $23 million in repair costs. To crack down on theft, Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Central Valley) introduced AB 641 to deter theft. The measure passed the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
“Thieves continue to steal catalytic converters, while victims foot the bill and must wait for months on end for repairs. Law enforcement needs more tools to hold thieves accountable and protect California motorists,” stated Assemblymember Fong.
“This bill will help discourage theft, increase penalties on criminals, and bring financial relief to California families, businesses and nonprofits.”
Sheriff Mike Boudreaux of Tulare County said, “I am pleased to hear that Governor Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 641 into law. Catalytic converter theft is not only a nuisance, but a big problem in Tulare County and across the state. It has a major impact on the agricultural industry that is vital to our county, and I am hopeful AB 641 alleviates some of those headaches for our farmers and ranchers. I congratulate Assembly Member Fong on his dedication to this bill, which is going to make it that much more difficult for criminals to take advantage of hard-working Californians.”
Specifically, Assembly Bill 641 allows law enforcement to charge thieves with illegal automobile dismantling when they are caught with nine or more stolen cut catalytic converters. Unlicensed vehicle dismantling is a misdemeanor with fines ranging from $250 up to $1,000 per offense.
Assembly Bill 641 cracks down on rampant catalytic converter theft and unlicensed dismantling by closing a loophole that prevents charging thieves found in possession of multiple detached converters with a crime.
Under AB 641, individuals and businesses with a legitimate purpose for possessing catalytic converters, such as a motor vehicle repair business, will remain exempt from registering as an automobile dismantler.
The President of the California Police Chiefs Association, Chief Alexander Gammelgard, stated, “It is often difficult for law enforcement to prove a crime has occurred when we find individuals with multiple detached catalytic converters, which is why AB 641 is so important. With this new law going into effect, law enforcement will have a critical tool towards proving a crime has occurred in order to successfully combat the rampant theft of these parts.”
Assembly Bill 641 will become law on January 1, 2024.
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Assemblyman Vince Fong represents the 32nd Assembly District, which encompasses Kern and Tulare Counties.