Colorado Lawmakers working on plan to stop catalyticoverter theft

“If the bill is passed, it will be against the law to install, sell, offer for sale, or advertise any used, recycled, or salvaged catalytic converter unless it has been certified for installation and sale by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment after Oct. 31…”
““One of the things that we’re doing is trying to clamp down on is the demand for a stolen catalytic converter, so making it illegal to sell a catalytic converter that hasn’t already been certified by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,” said Bird. “Before you can resell it to somebody, you have to make sure that it’s certified by the department.””

Man are these politicians out-of-touch with their constituents, and what the people actually need. No one is stealing catalytic converters–which is typically done with a cutting tool such as a Sawzall or angle grinder–for the purpose of resale as a working used catalytic converter! Thieves steal them for their scrap metal value.

This proposed law will do nothing but drive up costs for victims of catalytic converter theft, and for drivers whose cat failed due to normal wear-and-tear, because it will no longer be possible to purchase a used part from a junkyard due to the new law. Even many low-cost aftermarket cats will become illegal to purchase and install, further driving up repair costs, especially for owners of old cars.

Why not use existing laws to prosecute catalytic converter thieves, and scrap dealers who accept these kind of parts in quantity from individuals who are not owners or employees of a licensed business? It can reasonably be argued in a criminal complaint that the value of the articles stolen is not their scrap metal value, but the repair costs faced by victims of the theft. So, for example, a stolen condenser coil from an air conditioner should be valued at around $6500–the average cost to replace an HVAC unit–not the scrap metal value of less than $25 for criminal prosecution purposes. Similarly, a stolen catalytic converter might only fetch $25 from a scrap dealer, but should be valued for criminal prosecution at the average repair cost–using OEM parts–which is probably closer to $2000.

Here in Arizona, theft of copper pipe, copper wiring, and air conditioning coils became a huge problem around 2010. So the state passed laws requiring that scrap dealers purchasing these materials in quantities larger than $20 value could no longer pay cash, and instead must mail a check to the seller’s address, and sellers without a licensed business had to be fingerprinted, and have their driver’s license scanned by the scrap dealer. Suddenly, drug addicts looking for quick cash were unable to sell stolen copper wire/pipe/refrigerant coils, but individuals needing to recycle materials left over from home repair projects could still sell them (albeit with the burden of having to show ID, be fingerprinted, and wait a week or two for check payment if over $20).


I would say the politicians are not very bright rather than out of touch. Many states restrict the sale of used cats but as you clearly point out, that is not why the cats are being stolen. The politicians did not do their homework before they wrote this bill.

1 Like

Who buys the cats? Bobs auto recycling buys 125 cat each week? I’m not in the cat disposal business. I’m curious.

Missed the point. They don’t care if it solves anything as long as their name is in print

1 Like

Most scrap metal recycling yards buy them. You are supposed to get an ID, pay by check mailed after 3 business days, etc in MS, similar to as described above. Some places pay cash anyway. Laws don’t do much if they’re not enforced well. And a cash transaction with a meth head is hard to trace. How are you going to prove the scrap recycler bought a particular converter or if he pulled it off of a car he bought as scrap?

Then you’ve got the guys who drive around in vans and buy converters from scrap recyclers and others who have large quantities. They’ll often pay cash and be out of town before the sun sets.

Eventually they wind up at a dedicated cat converter recycler that can remove the platinum, rhodium, etc.

1 Like

The news story confuses two points of the bill.

One action is to require replacement converters to be certified, O.E. quality, same as California requires.

The second point address theft;

For the purposes of regulating purchases of commodity metals and the commodities metals theft task force, section 3 amends the definition of “commodity metal” to include rhodium, palladium, or platinum-clad components of a catalytic converter. For the purposes of the existing criminal statute prohibiting the operation of motor vehicle chop shops, section 4 adds catalytic converters to the definition of “major component motor vehicle part”. Section 5 requires each auto parts recycler to consult the national motor vehicle title information system for each catalytic converter that the auto parts recycler acquires from the recycling of a motor vehicle in order to determine whether the catalytic converter is stolen.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)

Catalytic converter theft has been rampant in Oregon for some time. The state recently introduced regulations that require recyclers to document the VIN from which the used catalyst has been removed. This will do little to stop catalyst theft.

Once in a while a thief is killed when a jack slips and a car falls on him while removing a catalyst. If only we could find a way for that to happen more often.