GOP lawmakers team up with police to prevent theft, sale of stolen catalytic converters

Local News

GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — Across the nation, there’s been a spike in thefts of catalytic converters, and our region is no exception. With precious metals inside, they are cut off and sold to scrap yards for quick cash. Gates Police say it only takes 30-45 seconds to cut one of these off with a circular saw.

The Monroe County Legislature partnering Monday with local law enforcement to try and reduce theft of the auto part. The Legislature saying New York State is behind the curve when it comes to doing something about this, and likely won’t act on this for years, so they’re making the move. 

For the average car owner, converters can take thousands of dollars to replace. Police say when one of these is cut off and sold to a scrap yard, there’s a very little paper trail left and it’s hard to catch the crooks. With this legislation, lawmakers want to make it harder for thieves to sell converters. 

This legislation will mandate:

  • Cash payouts of scrapped converters are NOT disbursed until 14 days after it’s delivered to a scrap yard 
  • Require scrap businesses to get a valid identification from people scrapping converters 
  • Require scraps yards to obtain documentation proving ownership of vehicles 
  • Require any auto shop to give proof that any converter being scrapped—- is from a vehicle that was serviced by the business.
  • This legislation will also mandate that scrap yards keep records for 3 years.

“The real point of this whole thing is to stop that immediate cash payout. So if someone goes in today with 7 catalytic converters, they’re not immediately getting handed that cash. So it takes that incentive away from the bad guy going underneath a car because he knows there’s going to be able to pick up a quick buck by doing that. But that 14-day hold period that’s where we’re hoping that it really kinds of stops the quick cash grab from the, essentially the majority of them are drug addicts in the city right now,” says Legislator Paul Dondorfer.

“Businesses and families are facing vehicle repair costs upwards of $2,000 because
criminals are turning a quick profit scrapping these auto parts,” said Legislator Karlya Boyce.

The law is expected to be voted on September 14. 

Full Press Release

Republican County Legislators Karla Boyce and Paul Dondorfer have partnered with local law enforcement to seek solutions to reduce the theft and scrapping for profit of catalytic converters in Monroe County. This crime is on the rise due to the increase in scrap value of the metals and minerals found in these devices on nearly all vehicles.

“Businesses and families are facing vehicle repair costs upwards of $2,000 because criminals are turning a quick profit scrapping these auto parts,” said Boyce. “Removing the incentive for a quick cash profit through mandating scrap yards wait 14 days before paying for turned in catalytic converters will help deter future thefts of these devices. We must work diligently to ensure action is taken to reduce these thefts.”

Legislators and law enforcement are looking to a local law passed by the County Legislature in 2013, which successfully curbed a rash of thefts caused by the quick profiting of valuable items at local pawn shops. This Local Law sponsored by Boyce and Dondorfer includes the following to deter future thefts of catalytic converters.

  • Mandates cash payouts of scrapped catalytic converters are not disbursed until 14 days after the converter is delivered to a scrap yard.
  • Require scrap businesses obtain copies of a valid driver’s license or other government issued ID from individuals scrapping catalytic converters.
  • Requires scrap businesses obtain copies of documentation proving ownership of any vehicle that has a catalytic converter scrapped, such as registration or vehicle title.
  • Requires any auto-body or mechanics shops to provide documentation that any catalytic converter being scrapped is from a vehicle that was serviced by that business, such as a copy of a receipt for work done.
  • Mandates scrap businesses keep the records of scrapped catalytic converters for no less than 3 years for law enforcement to follow up on investigations into stolen converters.
  • Increases fines and penalties for those caught and found guilty of committing a catalytic converter theft.

“This legislation not only eliminates the quick cash profit of stolen catalytic converters but gives law enforcement the ability to effectively investigate these crimes and arrest the individuals committing them,” said Dondorfer. “I’m confident that like The Pawn Shop Law, the increased requirements for exchanging these items by the scrapper and the individual will quickly reduce the rate these thefts are being committed.

Similar legislation targeting the rise in these thefts was proposed in the New York State Senate; however, no action has been taken on this item in months. While Democrats in the State Legislature sit on their hands, Republican Legislators in the Monroe County Legislature will continue fighting for our local businesses and families.

“I’m happy to see our local officials making an effort to curb these thefts and increase the penalties associated with these thefts,” said Joe Sebastian, owner of North Side Salvage Yard in East Rochester. “I know my business has personally lost thousands of dollars from the thefts of these devices. Private citizens and businesses shouldn’t need to worry about massive, unexpected repair bills or lost revenue.”

“This legislation will prevent those from profiting from criminal behavior and deterring catalytic converter theft,” said Fairport Police Chief Samuel Farina. “This will allow law enforcement the opportunity to be more effective and impactful on those who are routinely attempting to scrap catalytic converters and thwart the profitability of those creating havoc in our community.” 

“Going to a scrap yard with a perfectly good stolen catalytic converter and turning it in for cash is one of the easiest crimes to commit,” said Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode. “Our local businesses have paid out thousands of dollars in stolen converters.” 

The proposed Local Law was introduced in July and voted on favorably by the Legislature’s Agenda/Charter and Public Safety Committees. At tomorrow evening’s meeting of the County Legislature, a Public Hearing for this item will be set. The Local Law is expected to be voted on for final adoption at the September 14 meeting of the County Legislature

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