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New bill regarding catalytic convertor thefts headed to Senate

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION-TV) -- A new California Senate Bill 919 is aiming to help lower catalytic converter thefts.

For those who live in California, they know catalytic converter thefts happen far too often.

"In general it started in Stockton for me. I just assumed it was the area, because Stockton is Stockton. As soon as I left that place and moved to the San Jose Area, we thought it was going to be over," said Rolando Dayrit, a victim of catalytic converter theft.

But moving didn't solve the problem for Dayrit, all together his catalytic converter has been stolen 11 times.

"As soon as we park somewhere late at night and we would come back to our car after going shopping or going out to eat, it would be stolen again," said Dayrit. " So it’s not really an area problem, it’s an all around issue."

Catalytic converter thefts are easy to perform and hard to track.

“Since this crime is so hard to detect. There isn’t commensurate cases in court right now," said Marisol Mendez, Assistant District Attorney for the Monterey DA Office. "Statewide there is a movement to try and thwart this crime and make it maybe a little bit easier for these catalytic convertors to be identified."

This bill has three provisions, one of which requires help from scrap metal recyclers.

If the bill passes, car dealers would be required to permanently mark a car's catalytic converter with the Vehicle Identification Number.

Scrap metal recyclers would also only be allowed to buy catalytic convertors with a "clear and untampered VIN" according to SB919, and would be responsible for keeping track of who is selling to them.

They would then be required to give those records to local law enforcement.

SB919 also includes further fines for individuals who have bought, sold, or have possession of stolen convertors.

Being a victim of catalytic converter theft isn't cheap.

"Just on a financial aspect. It wears you down. Every time it happens, its what? 500 dollars for a deductible and just for them to take it every time it gets fixed, it just adds up," said Dayrit. "Eventually you’re in a financial debt."

Places that would usually purchase catalytic converters such as scrap metal recycling sites, like 'Martin's Recycling' in Gilroy, have stopped buying catalytic converters all together.

“Almost a year before the covid start, we stopped purchasing it because it was very difficult to tell the difference between stolen versus not stolen," said Fred Arjomandi, Owner of Martin's Recycling. "At the same time, it doesn't feel right when you think you're buying some stolen merchandise."

But if the bill passes, Arjomandi said it would be a game changer.

"If there's a website where I can check the numbers then yeah, definitely I would do that," said Arjomandi.

SB919 will be presented to the committee on Apr.4.

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Joronica Vinluan

Reporter/ Weekend Producer for KION News Channel 5/46


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