NJ officials to create fed task force to crack down on widespread catalytic converter theft

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Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Fed task force will crack down on catalytic converter thefts
New Jersey officials are teaming up with local law enforcement to crack down on widespread catalytic converter theft.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey officials are teaming up with local law enforcement to crack down on widespread catalytic converter theft.

Catalytic converter crimes have surged in New Jersey with 30 stolen in South Brunswick in just 10 days.

In Hackettstown, 18 catalytic converters were stolen from a fleet of Amazon trucks parked in the same location.

Maureen Nally has been a Jersey City firefighter for 21 years and she lives just 2 miles from her station. One morning, her catalytic converter was stolen from her late model Honda.

"So I went in the house jumped on my bicycle to get to work on time," Nally said.

Then two weeks after she replaced it thieves struck again.

"The second attempt they ruined my car. It's not repairable," Nally said.

Senator Bob Menendez is joining forces with local and state law enforcement to create a federal task force to address the issue.

"We need law enforcement, advocates, insurers, car dealers and manufacturers to be on the same page," Menendez said.

Thieves are after the precious metals inside the converters mostly found on older model cars like Hondas and Toyotas.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that these thefts have increased by 1,215% between 2019 and 2022.

New Jersey ranks 5th for stolen catalytic converter thefts. In Bergen County, there were 944 thefts in 2022, and 382 so far this year.

The problem right now is that it's a crime of opportunity that pays well and obviously some scrap metal yards are accepting the converters no questions asked.

Catalytic converters go for anywhere between $20 and $350 on illegal markets, with the replacement cost to vehicle owners averaging over $2,500.

"You come in with a box of 30 cc's there has to be some accountability of where they came from," said Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton. "It's not like years ago finding a hubcap on the side of the road."

Last month, New Jersey adopted new laws to combat the crime requiring documentation for every converter bought or sold, but its too soon right now to see how its affected the number of thefts.

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