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Board of Supervisors approves new Riverside County ordinance aimed at curbing catalytic converter theft

August 29, 2023

The County of Riverside Board of Supervisors today approved a new ordinance to combat the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in Riverside County unincorporated areas. Due to the increasing value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converter, thefts have been rising at an alarming rate. Each can be sold for up to $1,200.

Criminals can steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle in as little as a few seconds, while unsuspecting residents shop, work or sleep. Residents victimized by these thefts pay thousands of dollars to replace and repair their vehicles.

“Catalytic converter thefts have increased by more than 50 percent in the unincorporated areas in a single year,” said Board Chair Kevin Jeffries, First District Supervisor. “Hundreds of residents have been targeted, some repeatedly. These thefts have serious consequences on our residents. It’s time we have serious consequences for the thieves, too.”

Today’s ordinance will allow law enforcement the ability to penalize someone unlawfully in possession of a catalytic converter in Riverside County’s unincorporated areas. The new ordinance requires anyone in possession of a catalytic converter to show proof of ownership. Someone unlawfully in possession of a catalytic converter will now face criminal and civil penalties, including misdemeanor theft charges and penalties up to $5,000 for repeat offenses.

Prior to the new county ordinance, law enforcement could not seize a catalytic converter found to be removed from a vehicle and in someone’s possession unless a victim could be identified. Unfortunately, locating the victim without identifying information on the catalytic converter is often impossible.

Read the new county ordinance No. 987 hereThe new ordinance is only enforceable in unincorporated areas.  Cities may adopt the county ordinance, pursuant to the California Government Code.

Today, the board also voted to support the following bills in the state legislature aimed at deterring catalytic converter theft: Assembly Bill (AB) 1519 and AB 641.

Residents are encouraged to learn more about protecting themselves from catalytic converter theft, including installing an anti-theft device, parking in locked garages and etching identifiable information onto their catalytic converter.