ATPA Sub Committee - Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Committee

IAATI Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Sub-Committee Tackles the Epidemic of Catalytic Converter Thefts

The ATPA’s subcommittee on Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention was formed in February 2021 in response to the growing epidemic of catalytic converter thefts.

There is a great deal of misinformation and misdirection associated with explaining the causes of the catalytic converter theft epidemic. Fundamentally the problem is based upon a few simple understandings:

1) First, it is very easy to remove a catalytic converter from a vehicle. It can be done quickly and can be done without any need to break into the vehicle.
2) Second, detached stolen catalytic converters are not normally marked and cannot be tied back with certainty to the original vehicle for apprehension or prosecution.
3) Third, the very valuable contents of the converter can be removed and the housing can be crushed and discarded eliminating any means of identification.
4) Fourth, the existing scrap metal laws have many built-in exemptions that eliminate recordkeeping requirements for most business-to-business transactions in many states. These exemptions enable parties to operate with limited reporting and in some cases completely eliminate any requirements for recordkeeping.
5) Finally, there is no need to stock, warehouse, or advertise stolen catalytic converters in order for theft groups and fencing operations to sell the stolen property. There is an unlimited and immediate opportunity to sell stolen converters for their precious metal-containing internal material to the scrap metal and smelting markets immediately including for untraceable cash payments. Consequently, while some parties mistakenly represent that the major market for stolen converters is the resale of detached catalytic converters advertised for repair purposes is the source of theft problem, the vast bulk of the flow of stolen converters are actually going directly and immediately to the scrap metal and smelting of these stolen converters to feed into the metal refining of platinum group metals (PGM).

Even though the catalytic converters listed for sale on the internet are often represented as proof that this is a marketplace driving the stolen converter epidemic, the truth is something different than what is being represented. A careful study of these internet sites such as eBay shows that a very significant fraction of the catalytic converters listed for sale is new non-OEM aftermarket converters that would not be stolen converters.

Another large percentage of those listings are catalytic converters posted for sale are by parts companies who possess both the original vehicle and who are listing both the catalytic converters along with other parts for sale from those vehicles. In both of these cases, the availability of catalytic converters being listed for sale is not proof that these are stolen converters nor that these sellers are driving the catalytic converter theft problem.

This same misdirection of the problem can be recognized in that while all parties agree that the theft problem is driven by the high PGM prices - yet the value of the PGMs is recovered when detached converters are sold for melting down for the raw metals and not when it is sold for repair use.

The sub-committee will use its array of experience and resources to focus on the technical development relating to intelligence analysis and investigative assistance in the development of a better understanding of the elements of this vehicle crime. The committee will partner with both IAATI’s internal supporting committees (Manufacturer’s Liaison Committee, Vehicle Identification Committee, Public Outreach Committee, and the Scholarly Research Committee) along with partnering with the IACP to bring their strength to the fight.

The purpose of these partnerships is the creation of effective model legislation, best practices for theft prevention, law enforcement education, and the demystification of the elements that have prevented the elimination of all factors interfering with the administration of auto theft suppression efforts.

For a more complete discussion of the catalytic converter theft problem please see the “NSVRP-IAATI white paper on addressing catalytic converter thefts” under the IAATI’s “Documentation” section, under the “Whitepapers” section.

Joseph Boche

Committee Chair

Joseph Boche

Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau

Dennis Doherty

Committee Deputy Chair

Dennis Doherty

Wayne County County MI

Robert Force

Committee Member

Robert Force

Colorado State Patrol CATPA

Sev Vasquez

Committee Member

Sev Vasquez

Colorado State PatrolATTIC

Committee Member

Matthew Helmkamp

Michigan State Patrol

Committee Member

Les Cravens

Auto Data Direct

Nate Bradley

Committee Member

Nate Bradley

Missouri State Highway Patrol

Committee Member

Candice Urban

EPA

Reg Phillips

Committee Member

Reg Phillips

VRSS

George Baker

Committee Member

George Baker

GM

Emil Nusbaum

Committee Member

Emil Nusbaum

ARA

Committee Member

Holly Merz

IOWA's AG Office

Dan Louismet

Committee Member

Dan Louismet

Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association