Catalytic converter thieves target car dealer lots
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Catalytic converter thieves continue to plague our communities and are now targeting new car dealerships. Couple that with supply chain delays and many of these car lots face a double whammy when it comes to keeping up with consumer demand.
The rows of mint condition cars outside Bakersfield Hyundai have a treasure chest of precious metals just below.
Patrick Beck is the main dealer for Bakersfield Hyundai, his batch of cars were hit by ruthless catalytic converter thieves, most recently last month.
“Most of the time we don’t know the converters are stolen until we turn the car on,” Beck said.
Many batches of cars from the Auto Mall in Bakersfield have been targeted by thieves hiding to score big in one place. When a converter is stolen, it delays the sale of that vehicle and eventually scares away customers.
“The biggest problem is that he pulls the car or truck off the front line until we get it fixed,” Beck said.
Bakersfield is already working to crack down on catalytic converter thieves. This week, the city council voted to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would allow prosecutors to charge catalytic converter thieves with a misdemeanor if they cannot prove ownership.
Several bills are also making their way to Governor Newsom’s desk, hoping to deter theft in the state. Assembly Bill 2682 would prohibit all vehicle dealers and retail vendors from selling vehicles equipped with a catalytic converter unless the converter has been engraved or permanently marked with the serial number. vehicle identification (VIN).
“They’re in a tough spot,” said Ward 7 council member Chris Parlier. “Some dealerships had about, in June, about 100 catalytic converter thefts.”
Bakersfield City Council expects to have a first draft of the proposed ordinance targeting catalytic converter thefts at its August meeting.
Crime happens in less than 2 minutes, criminals tend to target larger vehicles that are easy to slide under, where they drive away and get away with a catalytic converter.
“We do a lot of forklifts,” Beck said. “The thieves get down and out but when the unit is secure they abandon their task.”
The hardest hit dealers in the region have had to take matters into their own hands. Beck says going the extra mile and securing converters for new cars has proven helpful.
But as the problem continues to grow, customers drift away and dollars are lost.
“What’s frustrating is there’s a market for it,” Beck said. “They sell them for pennies on the dollar.”