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Bains introduces another Assembly bill to combat catalytic converter theft

Assemblymember Jasmeet Bains has introduced AB 1519, which would make it illegal both to take a VIN off a marked catalytic converter and to own 3 or more unmarked converters at once.
allegedly stolen catalytic converters
Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-18 22:06:47-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Catalytic converter thefts continue to be a concern for Kern County residents. Bills like SB 1087 and AB 1740 were signed into law at the beginning of the year. The purpose of the bills is to combat catalytic converter thefts, as well as the trade in unsecured catalytic converters.

So far, the laws appear to be having an effect. Between January and March of 2022, 480 catalytic converter thefts were reported to the Bakersfield Police Department. For the same span of time in 2023, only 38 thefts have been reported to BPD.

Now, Dr. Jasmeet Bains, Assemblymember for California's 35th District, is introducing AB 1519 in the hopes of bringing the number of catalytic converter thefts all the way down to zero.

"1519 calls for much-needed transparency and accountability for what's happening right now, especially with the catalytic converter theft that's hitting and impacting communities, especially like mine," said Bains.

Bains proposed AB 1519 to the Assembly Transportation Committee, which recently passed it. The bill, if approved by the Assembly, would make it illegal for someone to remove, alter, or hide a VIN number that has been added to a catalytic converter.

"Marking your catalytic converter with your vehicle's VIN is recommended by law enforcement as a way to protect your vehicle, and it also lets law enforcement trace the converter back to your vehicle to help establish guilt as well," said Bains.

Dr. Bains says her bill would not force car owners to mark their cars, but she adds that marking your car could save you hundreds of dollars in the future.

"It costs drivers between $1,000 and $4,000 dollars to get their car fixed after a theft, so the impact is devastating. Many vehicles are totaled after having their catalytic converter stolen," said Bains.

According to Bains, her bill will not only save car owners money and stress, but also ensures that criminals are charged accordingly. AB 1519 makes removing a VIN a misdemeanor, as well as making it illegal to be in possession of 3 or more unmarked catalytic converters.

"In my neighborhood, there's been multiple converters that have been stolen, and we can't let people get away scot-free. They're gonna be much less likely to target your vehicle if they know that there are penalties and they're gonna be held accountable," said Bains.

The final vote for AB 1519 should occur in mid-May. The bill must first be approved by both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Even though the process will take some time, Bains still encourages residents to start marking their cars now.


California has one of the highest rates of catalytic converter theft in the country. Taking an in-depth look at the statistics across the state reveals which vehicles are targeted the most and how much repairs can cost for drivers who fall victim to the crime.

The Bureau of Automotive Repair says that an average of 1,600 converter thefts are reported each month throughout of California. The theft itself is a fairly simple matter, taking only minutes and needing just basic tools.

The most targeted vehicles are typically Toyotas and Hondas. The converters on these vehicles are commonly certified as super-low emission and coated with precious metals like rhodium, which has a value of more than $14,000 per ounce.

Replacing a stolen catalytic converter can cost as much as $4,000, and thieves will often do additional damage to the surrounding pipes, wiring, and oxygen sensors, which adds to the overall repair cost.