Philadelphia council member pushes for bill to decrease catalytic converter thefts

Joseph Avola etches a license plate number on a catalytic converter at Doyle's Automotive on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.
Joseph Avola etches a license plate number on a catalytic converter at Doyle's Automotive on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. Photo credit Michael Karas / NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Carter Campbell left work one day, started his car and heard a terrible roar.

His catalytic converter, a metal part that sits on the outside of a car’s undercarriage, intended to reduce air pollution, had been stolen.

“This is a hassle for me because I have children and this is my way of getting around,” Campbell said. “It cost me a tremendous amount of money, to the point where I can’t even get the car fixed now.”

Campbell is not alone in this situation.

Philadelphia police reported nearly 3,500 catalytic converter thefts in 2021, a major increase from 2019.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter thefts rose nationally from 1,300 in 2018 to 52,000 last year.

The price of the converter’s metals spiked in recent years. One of the metals the converters are made with, rhodium, can sell for as much as $29,000 dollars an ounce.

In hopes of combatting these thefts, Philadelphia Councilmember Cindy Bass proposed a bill that would require proof of origin, in the form of an owner’s card, to limit the buying and selling of converters and the metals in them.

Violators could be fined or imprisoned.

“The idea is to make this a not profitable enterprise in the city because you won’t be able to move them,” Bass said.

The committee advanced the bill and it could be voted on as early as Thursday’s City Council session.

“We are very hopeful that what we have proposed will make a difference.”

To reduce the risk of converter theft, police advise parking in a protected or well-lit area. Individuals can also purchase covers that make the parts more difficult to steal.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Michael Karas / NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK