PHOENIX ( Associated Press) — An Arizona man was facing multiple theft charges Friday after detectives packed more than 1,200 catalytic converters into a storage unit, a case that was crucial in reducing the vehicle’s speed. Highlights the national rise in theft of expensive auto parts playing a role. emissions.
The search began with a January tip after a month-long investigation that someone was storing stolen catalytic converters in an industrial area near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
“We were very surprised at the amount there,” Phoenix Police Det. Adam Poplier said in a police video taken Thursday that officers were pulling converters out of a jam-packed storage locker.
The 48-year-old man, who police say was buying and selling converters, was charged with 40 counts of theft and could face additional charges.
The massive increase in theft of catalytic converters across the country has affected thousands of car and truck owners in pocketbooks and frustrated police, who are facing a crime that takes minutes to commit and leads to theft. It is also difficult to solve. parts.
Catalytic converters are not marked with a serial number at the factory and stolen converters end up in a black market where they are open to valuable metals.
Replacing one can cost a motorist $1,000 to $3,000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an insurance industry group working to combat insurance fraud and crime. Police say thieves can get anywhere from $100 to $150 for each converter.
The insurance group counted just 3,969 reports of stolen catalytic converters in 2019, up from 17,000 in 2020 and more than 52,000 last year.
Lawmakers across the country have taken notice, introducing legislation designed to make it harder for criminals to unload their loot. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, this year 150 bills have been introduced in 36 states and enacted in 16 states.
That includes Arizona, where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill this month that makes possession of a catalytic converter a crime in many cases and expands reporting requirements for scrap dealers buying legitimate used equipment. adds up. They must mark the item with the serial number of the donor vehicle and keep it in its original condition for at least one week.
Scrap dealers caught with unregistered or stolen converters face a fine of $500 for the first offense, a fine of $2,000 for one second, and at least double the fine for each additional time. Those trying to keep or sell a used catalytic converter that does not meet the new requirements could face up to six months in prison.
Federal law is also in the works. Indiana Representative Jim Baird is sponsoring a bill supported by the National Insurance Crime Bureau that would require serial numbers on new equipment, offering grants for programs to stamp numbers on existing cars and trucks, and prosecuting theft. will make it easier.
David Glave, president and CEO of the insurance group, called it an important step to help bring relief to those directly affected by the theft.
Insurance often does not cover the loss of the car owner. Someone who is carrying only liability coverage or liability and collision is on the hook for the entire bill. Even with comprehensive coverage, there is a deductible that can be high enough that it’s not worth filing a claim.
“Ultimately, even with coverage, some victims may treat the problem as a mechanical problem and pay for it themselves and never notify their insurer,” Insurance Crime Bureau spokeswoman Tully Lehman said Friday. Huh.”