Fong’s bill to crack down on catalytic converter theft becomes law

The new law will bring harsher penalties to catalytic converter thieves, closing a loophole.

A bill proposed by Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield) to hold catalytic converter thieves accountable has now become law. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 641, which had unanimous bipartisan support in the Legislature. 


The big picture: Catalytic converters are a hot item for automotive thieves throughout California. Two years ago California averaged 1,600 stolen converters per month, resulting in $23 million in repair costs. 

  • AB 641 allows law enforcement to charge thieves with illegal automobile dismantling when they are caught with at least nine stolen catalytic converters. 
  • That charge is a misdemeanor that could result in fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 per offense. 
  • Fong’s office noted that AB 641 closes a loophole that prevents charging thieves found with multiple detached converters with a crime. 
  • Individuals and businesses who have a legitimate purpose for having catalytic convertors, such as repair shops, will be exempt from registering as an automobile dismantler. 
  • AB 641 will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. 

What they’re saying: “Thieves continue to steal catalytic converters, while victims foot the bill and must wait for months on end for repairs,” Fong said in a statement. “Law enforcement needs more tools to hold thieves accountable and protect California motorists. This bill will help discourage theft, increase penalties on criminals, and bring financial relief to California families, businesses and nonprofits.” 

  • Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said in a statement that he was pleased to hear Newsom signed AB 641 into law given the problem it poses in Tulare County and across the state. 
  • “It has a major impact on the agricultural industry that is vital to our county, and I am hopeful AB 641 alleviates some of those headaches for our farmers and ranchers. I congratulate Asm. Fong on his dedication to this bill, which is going to make it that much more difficult for criminals to take advantage of hard-working Californians.”
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