The Nassau County Legislative Majority joined with Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and Upper Brookville Mayor Elliot Conway to announce a local law to provide another tool for the county in its fight against the rising theft and illegal resale of catalytic converters.
Under this law, all businesses buying catalytic converters will be required to obtain information from the seller, including their ID, copy of title, and the make, model and vehicle identification number of the vehicle the part came from. Businesses will be required to keep these records for 5 years of the purchase date and they must be made available for inspection, upon request, by the Nassau County Police Department and Consumer Affairs within 72 hours after date of purchase.
There has been a sharp increase in catalytic converter thefts nationwide since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. A catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler along with the exhaust system. It is designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gasses. To do this, manufacturers use platinum, palladium, or rhodium, making them valuable to scrap metal businesses and more prone to theft.
“With theft of catalytic converters on the rise in Nassau County and throughout the country it is important that we provide our law enforcement with as many tools as possible to stop this activity,” Presiding Officer Nicolello said. “This legislation is designed to make it more difficult for thieves to profit from their illegal acts.”
Crime statistics show that the most common catalytic converter thefts are from Prius, Toyota, Lexus, and Honda Accord models. The cars tend to be parked on streets or in parking lots. Thieves have even gone after new cars in car lots.
“Catalytic converter theft has been an epidemic in Nassau County, especially among certain makes and models of cars,” Legislator Bill Gaylor, one of the legislation’s co-sponsors said. “By reducing the number of places thieves can sell the parts stripped from catalytic converters, we are putting a dent into their system. Further, by providing the police and consumer affairs with the information necessary to track down the sellers in case the parts were stolen, we have given law enforcement the necessary tools to make Nassau County safer.”
The cost to replace a catalytic converter can be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 and experienced thieves can crawl under your car and cut out the catalytic converter and be gone in under two minutes. The car will still run without a catalytic converter, but it will not be able to pass a yearly inspection.
“This new legislation will make it much more difficult for catalytic converter thieves to profit from their work and will act as a deterrent to all car thieves,” Legislator John Giuffré, one of the legislations co-sponsors said. “It will also give our law enforcement the necessary tools needed to track down stolen parts and the people who sell them. Let it be known, we will not tolerate this in Nassau County.”
The most common signs your catalytic converter has been stolen include loud noises coming from the vehicle, less torque, your check engine light being on, and extra components visible under your car. In 2022 alone there have already been 348 incidents of catalytic converter theft. Commissioner Ryder says investigations are ongoing and there have been 5 arrests so far.
“In my district, car thefts and break-ins have gone on the rise,” Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation said. “This bill will help deter criminals from being able to sell catalytic converters, thus making them less popular to steal. The law will not eliminate car thefts entirely though, and I still urge residents to always lock their vehicles and take their key and any other valuables with them.”
This new legislation will go through the Legislative Committees and full Legislature in May.
“This new legislation will assist the Police Department with an increase of mandatory record keeping regarding the sale of Catalytic Converters. By collecting this important data, we will be able to better track the items during investigations,” stated Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. To better protect yourself against theft, all residents should try and park their vehicles in a well lite area and call the police immediately if they see any suspicious persons or vehicles.
Additionally, the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) recently issued a public alert concerning an increase in stolen automobiles and vehicle break-ins. The thefts are occurring at all times of the day and night especially involving cars that have been left unlocked and the key FOB left in vehicles equipped with a push button start. In some more modern vehicles, when key FOBs are left inside the car, the mirrors remain standing out; when the FOB is removed from car, mirrors automatically fold inward. Thieves look for these signs as a way of knowing whether they can get into your car.
While NCPD are constantly on patrol, it urges the public to be vigilant by practicing the following safety tips to help safeguard your vehicle:
- Always lock your vehicle, even when it’s parked in your driveway.
- Park in your garage when possible. If not, park in your driveway rather than on the street.
- Remember to lock your garage.
- Always take your keys or FOB with you.
- Never leave or hide a smart key, valet key, or spare key in your vehicle.
- Never leave your car running, while unattended or unlocked.
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Keep the exterior of homes and driveways well illuminated.
- Close all your vehicle windows completely when parked.
- Consider installing a GPS system, a visible anti-theft device or an audible alarm.
- Never leave valuable personal property in your vehicle.
- Also, secure your garage door opener to prevent access to your home.
Car thefts are attractive to criminals because it is a lower risk crime. When a thief enters your unlocked car, rummages through your belongings, and leaves with nothing, it becomes nuisance criminal activity and is very difficult to effectively prosecute. However, if thieves get just a few successful thefts of possessions in a particular neighborhood, that area remains a recurring attractive target.
Remember, if you “see something, say something.” Dial 9-1-1 and be ready to provide the police with as much information as possible regarding the description of the suspicious person or vehicle. License plate numbers are extremely valuable for the police if you can capture that information.