Crime Surge: Catalytic Convert Thefts Up 300%
By Mitch Baxter
Catalytic converter and auto thefts have surged this year by nearly 300% on Long Island, amid a nationwide surge in auto theft crimes.These thefts have roughly tripled in Nassau and Suffolk counties, with 1,549 converter thefts in Nassau and 849 in Suffolk already this year.
Catalytic converters, are a required vehicle-emissions component, and contain precious metals which make them a lucrative and easy target for thieves.
Converter thieves typically rip apart the bottom of a car when tearing-out and stealing a converter, often causing over $5,000 in damage to the car.
“We have hired 36 new police officers,” stated Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman (R-Long Beach) “And we now have new reporting requirements for our auto body shops and our scrap metal shops.”
New York State and North Shore village governments have passed new laws hoping to combat the thefts, and dispatched their police departments by increasing patrols, setting up cameras, giving out anti-theft kits, and posting flyers urging citizens to watch for suspicious activity.
Earlier this year, the Nassau Legislature's Republican Majority joined with Upper Brookville Mayor Elliot Conway to announce a local law to provide another tool for the county in its fight against the rising theft and illegal resale of catalytic converters. Under this law, all businesses buying catalytic converters will be required to obtain information from the seller, including their ID, copy of title, and the make, model and VIN number of the vehicle the part came from.
Car thefts are also up significantly on Long Island, with 75% of the stolen cars turning up in Newark, New Jersey.
To combat the thefts, Nassau police have increased cooperation with Newark police and the U.S. Marshals, and seven North Shore village police departments were given public-safety grants to buy license plate readers.
Blakeman blamed New York's "atmosphere of lawlessness" and “failed policies such as cashless bail reform,” as major contributors to the crime surge.