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As price of precious metals rises, catalytic converter thefts skyrocket in Hawaii

The number of stolen catalytic converters is skyrocketing in Hawaii. State Farm reported that in 2019, they only had 8 theft claims. In 2021, they had 310.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 5:39 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 5:58 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The number of stolen catalytic converters is skyrocketing in Hawaii.

State Farm reported that in 2019, they only had eight theft claims. In 2021, they had 310.

And last year, there were nearly 2,300 stolen converters and 23 arrests, according to HPD.

Lawmakers took notice of the trend and now there’s a bill that could make the theft a Class C felony. It could also be a felony for recycling dealers if they don’t follow the new rules.

“We’re also requiring the police departments establish a database so that we’ve got a way to track these,” said sate Sen. Roz Baker.

The bill would require used motor vehicle parts dealers to obtain a written statement the seller has the lawful right to sell and dispose of the converter. The payment would have to be made out in the form of a check and records of the sale would need to be kept.

Phillip Fox, the general manager for Capitol Auto Service in Waipio, doesn’t know if these penalties will do a whole lot.

“These people are probably not taken to a licensed salvage yard, they take into some backyard place that is not subject to those rules and limitations,” said Fox.

In the past two years, Capital Auto Service replaced 1,000 catalytic converters.

“This is our seventh one this week,” said Fox, gesturing to a Prius. “Yeah, this is crazy.”

A catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system and contains precious metals that are way up in price. It takes about two minutes to cut out.

“Quick, easy money,” said Fox. “That’s as simple as that.”

Fox said in some cases, the catalytic converter can cost more than $3,000 to replace and can take two weeks to ship if the part isn’t on-island.

Lawmakers hope that the steep cost of the crime won’t be worth it.

The bill Baker introduced is now being considered in the House.

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