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NADA urges Congress to act on legislation targeting catalytic converter thefts

WASHINGTON — The National Automobile Dealers Association and 12 other trade groups are urging Congress to advance a bipartisan bill that would combat an alarming rise in catalytic converter thefts in the U.S.

In a letter sent Monday to Democratic and Republican leadership on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the groups asked the committee to hold a hearing on legislation known as the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act and to support the measure.

“These thefts are costing millions of dollars to businesses and vehicle owners alike,” the groups wrote in a letter to Reps. Frank Pallone, the committee’s chairman, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the GOP ranking member. “In addition, replacing a catalytic converter is costly and often difficult due to the part’s skyrocketing demand and supply chain shortages.”

Other groups that signed the letter include the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, American Car Rental Association, American Truck Dealers, American Trucking Associations, National Insurance Crime Bureau and National RV Dealers Association.

In the U.S., catalytic converters are being stolen at increasingly higher rates because they contain costly precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, and are not easily traceable.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau said there were 14,433 catalytic converter thefts reported in the U.S. in 2020 — the last year figures were available — compared with 3,389 theft cases in 2019. In 2018, there were just 1,298 thefts reported.

Stolen converters can go for anywhere between $20 and $350 each on the black market, the groups told the lawmakers, but can cost vehicle owners as much as $2,500 to replace.

“Catalytic converter theft is a major concern for dealers nationwide,” NADA CEO Mike Stanton said in a statement. “The PART Act would help deter catalytic converter thefts that are impacting dealerships, fleet businesses and consumers alike.”

The PART Act was introduced in January by Rep. Jim Baird, R-Ind. The bill aims to reduce catalytic converter thefts by requiring new vehicles to have a VIN number stamped onto the converter, allowing law enforcement officers to link stolen parts to the originating vehicles.

The bill also would create a grant program to allow dealers, repair shops and other eligible parties to stamp VIN numbers onto converters of existing vehicles.

As of Tuesday, at least eight House Republicans and three Democrats support the bill.

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