The San Jose City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance that would allow law enforcement to charge those in unlawful possession of catalytic converters, local officials said Tuesday.
According to city officials, the newly approved measure is expected to strengthen laws prohibiting the illegal possession of catalytic converters, marked or unmarked, and will enact stricter fines.
Current laws only allow authorities to charge suspects if the seized converter has an identifier attached, which they say is often removed by thieves before selling them, according to city officials.
“The cost of replacing a catalytic converter is beyond reasonable for any working-class person. To that end, the goal of our policy is to send a clear message to thieves: if you steal from the working class, we will come down on you with the full force of the law. I'm hopeful this policy will provide the SJPD the necessary tools and education to ensure that catalytic converter theft is a thing of the past in the City of San Jose,” Councilmember Peter Ortiz said.
Councilmember Dev Davis reported that her intern had his catalytic converter stolen.
“It caused him a lot of grief and hard-earned wages to replace it. Hopefully, with these new laws, we can deter this type of illegal act,” she said.
The office of Councilmember Domingo Candelas cited data from nationwide insurance claims that reportedly showed catalytic converter thefts skyrocketed during the stay-at-home orders of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In San Jose, reported catalytic converter thefts totaled 836 reports in 2023, causing major economic setbacks for victims. Depending on your insurance coverage, replacing a catalytic converter can range anywhere between $1,000 - $3,000,” according to Candelas' office.