Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) President and CEO Rebecca Oyler shared testimony on catalytic converter theft for a House Consumer, Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hearing.
The public hearing discussed House Bill 791. The bill would amend the Scrap Material Theft Prevention Act and require scrap processors and recycling facility operators to collect more information when someone brings in a catalytic converter.
The bill would require anyone turning in a catalytic converter to provide information on the year, make, model, and VIN of the car or truck the converter is from, a photo of the converter, and a photo of the seller.
The bill also would require a processor and operator to withhold payment for 48 hours and keep the converter intact and safe.
Oyler says PMTA supports the bill, saying trucks are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft.
In her testimony Oyler shared four main points:
· Many trucks have more than one catalytic converter.
· Truck catalytic converters generally fetch high prices in the aftermarket. Even small trucks, which are typically used by small businesses to haul their trailers, are in demand. The Ram 2500 and Ford F-250 are the 2nd and 3rd most expensive catalytic converters.
· Catalytic converters are often more exposed and vulnerable to theft on trucks, especially box trucks that sit high off the ground and are easier to slide under. Depending on the type of truck, catalytic converters are sometimes installed in locations where thieves can access them without jacks or even having to get under the truck.
· Trucks are often parked closely together at dealers, truck rental companies, and small businesses with truck fleets, allowing thieves to target multiple vehicles quicker and more easily. Catalytic converters from newer vehicles fetch a higher price than from older vehicles, making truck dealers an especially vulnerable target.
She says while all car-owners are targets, this crime is particularly devastating for truck drivers.
“For many drivers, their trucks are their livelihoods,” Oyler said. “For small businesses, trucks are often the only way they can get to their job sites and customers, deliver their products or provide their services. Putting their trucks out of commission puts their business out of commission.”
Oyler says the cost of replacing a new catalytic converter can range from $1,000 to $2,500, and that doesn’t factor in the business lost due to the truck being out of service.
In her testimony, Oyler points to several examples of catalytic converter theft in Pennsylvania.
- A family-owned fireplace store in Larksville having both catalytic converters stolen from its only truck.
- A local HVAC parts distributor’s trucks targeted in 2022.
- A family farm in Brownsville found trucks stripped of catalytic converters.
- At a business in Upper Moreland, catalytic converters were stolen out of 14 work trucks.
- In January, three men were charged in Allegheny County for stealing catalytic converters from dozens of businesses and individuals in three counties, including tow trucks.
At the hearing, the bill’s primary sponsor Mary Isaacson, testified that catalytic converter theft has been a problem for years but has significantly worsened during the pandemic. She said the purpose of her bill is to provide a tool for people to seek relief and potentially recover from these thefts. She acknowledged the concerns about imposing additional regulations on the scrap metal industry but says it is an area where stolen products are likely being sold. She said involving the industry could help identify and recover stolen converters.
To read more about the bill, click here.
To read Rebecca Oyler’s testimony in full, click here.