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Santa Monica Passes Law Punishing Catalytic Converter Theft


The Santa Monica City Council has approved a $500 fine for possessing a stolen catalytic converter following the crime skyrocketing in recent years. 

A catalytic converter is a car part that removes pollution from the exhaust system. 

Catalytic Converter Theft

Theft of catalytic converters has skyrocketed in Santa Monica over the past few years. In total, there were 312 calls over the crime in 2022, compared to only 27 in 2019. 

In 2023, the city is on pace for 500 by the end of the year. 

So, why do thieves keep stealing this specific auto part? 

The answer stems from the materials used to construct catalytic converters. The part contains a variety of rare and precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Together, they form the chemical reaction needed to remove pollution from a car’s exhaust system. 

Depending on the amount of each metal in the converter, the part can potentially be worth over $1,000. However, repair costs are nearly double that on average. 

In addition, the part is accessible as it is just on the bottom of a vehicle, making it easy for thieves to steal. Thus, the problem has risen all across the nation, with 150,000 being taken from cars last year alone. 

Santa Monica’s New Law

As a result of the increase in theft, the Santa Monica City Council has passed a law delivering a $500 fine to anyone in possession of a stolen catalytic converter. 

Prior to the law, there was no punishment for the possession of an undocumented catalytic converter. This made it difficult for local police to enforce, as they often couldn’t identify a victim even if they found one was in possession of the stolen part. 

Now, the city will be able to place fines on individuals in possession while hopefully trying to get the auto part back to its original owner. 

While time will only tell, there is hope that the new law will deter the theft of catalytic converters. 

For the latest news in the Greater Los Angeles area, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline

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