New law in New York aims to reduce thefts of catalytic converters

Surveillance video shows a group of men stealing the catalytic converter right out from under Eric Tenner's car parked in the driveway of his Huntington Station home.

"I have security lights on like everyone says and cameras," he said. 

According to officials, in New York City alone, catalytic converter thefts have almost quadrupled this year compared to last. In Nassau, numbers are up reportedly 248%. In Suffolk, there have been nearly three times as many thefts this year.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Monday to help victims and crack down on what she calls a recent phenomenon.

"If a theft is reported, we'll know more where to get the information," she said. 

As part of the legislation, car dealers will soon stock catalytic converter etching kits to put serial numbers on components of new and used cars.

"It's applied with acid and it burns through and it's in the catalytic converters," Hochul said. 

The legislation also requires salvage companies to maintain records. Every 60 days, those businesses must report the number of catalytic converters received otherwise they could be hit with a fine of up to double the amount made and taking the allegedly stolen converter components.

"We want to put responsibility back where it belongs," state Sen. Diane Savino said.

Matt Meng, the owner and operator of car repair shop The Little Garage, called it a good effort but doesn't think it will do much in the long run.

"If you have the nerve to steal a catalytic converter, they're just going to open the skin, take the metals and throw it in the garbage," Meng said. 

According to experts, taller vehicles are more susceptible because thieves can slide underneath. Also, the mid-2000s Toyota Prius contains one of the most precious metals.

The legislation also budgets $20 million to help local police departments with new technologies to solve, reduce, and prevent crime.

The legislation goes into effect 180 days.