Press Release - 05-05-2022

DMV news

Thursday, May 5, 2022


Parts of New York Seeing 200 Percent Increase in Thefts Per Year

DMV Partners with Law Enforcement, Auto Dealers on New Initiative to Deter Thefts

Majority of Thefts Result in $5,000 to $10,000 in Damage Per Vehicle

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today warned New Yorkers of skyrocketing catalytic converter thefts and announced a new initiative to help law enforcement track stolen catalytic converters and deter thefts.

Today in Buffalo, the DMV joined members of law enforcement, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) to demonstrate a new process that allows auto dealers to etch a traceable serial number onto the catalytic converter that can be clearly seen and quickly linked back to the vehicle from which it was stolen.

“New car dealers have been hit particularly hard by these thefts. In addition to the cost to replace the stolen parts, these thefts often result in thousands of dollars in additional damage to the vehicle, which means a dealer has to wait to sell the vehicle or a new car buyer has to wait significantly longer to receive their vehicle,” said DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “We are happy to help get etching kits into the hands of dealers to help them fight the scourge of catalytic converter thefts.”

Attached to vehicle mufflers, a catalytic converter uses platinum, palladium, and rhodium to convert toxic engine exhaust to less harmful gasses. The value of those precious metals has skyrocketed in recent years, making catalytic converters a hot commodity, with a street value of $200 to $500.

Over the past three years, some areas of the state have seen increases up to 200 percent per year. One of the main targets has been new car dealerships. Criminals will enter dealer lots with hacksaws or other tools and cut the catalytic converters off vehicles.

The cost to the dealer for each catalytic converter is $2,000 to $3,000. The larger the vehicle, the more expensive the catalytic converter, and many newer vehicles have two. In addition to the loss of the catalytic converter(s), the thefts often result in the undercarriage of the vehicle, fuel line and electric lines being cut, adding $5,000 to $10,000 in damage per vehicle.

In response, the DMV is working with regional auto dealers’ associations to distribute etching kits to dealers. Dealers or consumers who have questions about the etching kits should contact their local auto dealer association.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the New York Anti Car Theft & Fraud Association (NYACT) have also purchased up to 1,000 kits each. These are also being distributed to dealers.

NFADA President Paul Stasiak said, “Automobile dealers realize catalytic converter theft is one of the fastest growing crimes across the nation. Prevention, awareness, and education is needed because this crime impacts every vehicle owner. This silent theft creates with an enormous replacement expense for owners, causes serious safety consequences and generates major consumer inconvenience to replace, so the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) applaud the strong efforts of NYS DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder and this task force to address and curb this growing issue. NFADA and our WNY dealers are happy to assist this task force and help be part of any solution to prevent future catalytic crimes.”

NICB Regional Director Kevin Gallagher said, “Catalytic converter thefts have risen dramatically over the past two years and are at record highs. Vehicle owners pay a high price when a thief targets their catalytic converter, often incurring lost income from missing work, needing to find and pay for alternate transportation and then paying thousands of dollars to repair the vehicle.”

NYACT Chairperson Nichole Soriano said, “The sharp increase in the number of catalytic converters being stolen across the country has police and legislators searching for a way to curb the thefts. The New York Anti Car Theft and Fraud Association (NYACT) is proud to partner with the NICB, DMV and NYPD, as well as local and county police departments all over the state, to spearhead this catalytic converter tagging program.”

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