Catalytic Converter Theft – California

California is the #1 state in the U.S. for catalytic converter theft.

Like most states, California, has seen a drastic increase in catalytic converter theft over the past several years. If you have been a victim of catalytic converter theft you know how inconvenient it is both in terms of time and money.

According to a KSBY-6 news report, State Farm insurance paid out 10.8 million for 4507 claims in 2020. In 2021, those numbers doubled to 23 million with 9057 claims.

And that is just State Farm!

California also has strict emissions laws that require CARB-compliant catalytic converters and exhaust systems. And they require smog checks. While good for the environment, many believe that the higher cost of CARB-compliant catalytic converters and high resale value for the higher levels of precious metals inside CARB-compliant catalytic converters, these strict emissions requirements are fueling the increased theft.

How bad is catalytic converter theft in California

Catalytic converter theft can happen anywhere, however, here are a few examples of catalytic converter theft in California’s major cities:


Anaheim Police Seek Catalytic Converter Thieves: Report – Patch


According to the Bakersfield police department and a news report from 23 ABC News, catalytic converter theft in Bakersfield has increased over 600% from 2019 to mid-2021.

Reported catalytic converter theft in Bakersfield (2019-2021)

In 2019, 188 people reported theft of their catalytic converters compared to 1374 in just the first six months of 2021 alone.

  • 2019 – 188
  • 2020 – 578
  • January through July 2021 – 1374

Source: 23 ABC News – Bakersfield / Bakersfield PD

Read more about catalytic converter theft in Bakersfield

Catalytic converter theft caught on camera


Video shows catalytic converter theft in Fresno in less than 2 minutes – ABC30 News
Catalytic converter thefts up over 900% in Fresno, police say – KMPH Fox 26 News
Catalytic Converter Stolen in Broad Daylight; Detectives Seek to Identify Thief – Fresno Sheriff

Long Beach

Long Beach man shot after confronting catalytic converter thieves – LA Times
3 charged in thefts of catalytic converters off cars in Long Beach – Newsday

Los Angeles

Analysis of Catalytic Converter Theft Reports Reveals a Stunning Increase in California – NBC Los Angeles News
Dozens of catalytic converters stolen from city owned vehicles, LA seeks plan to address theft – Fox11 Los Angeles News
A record year for Los Angeles auto-part thefts – Crosstown LA News

San Diego

Catalytic converter thefts sweep through San Diego, worrying resident – CBS8 News
Auto shops, police are fighting rise in catalytic converter thefts – KPBS News

San Francisco

‘It’s an epidemic:’ Brazen videos capture Bay Area catalytic converter thieves in the act – ABC7 News
Catalytic converter thefts continue to vex Bay Area motorists; police advise deterrents – FOX KTVU News
Catalytic Converter Thieves Shoot At San Francisco Resident Who Tried To Stop Theft – CBS SF Bay Area News
‘It’s a great big mess’: Catalytic converter thefts rampant in the Bay Area – SFGate

San Jose

San Jose police recover 1,000 catalytic converters, make 15 arrests – KTVU FOX 2


According to a KCRA 3 investigative report, Sacramento county catalytic converter theft is up 1500% over a 4 year period. Data collected through public records, showed 74 catalytic converter thefts reported to police in 2018, compared to 1214 in just 9 months of 2021 alone.

Reported catalytic converter theft in Sacramento county (2018-2021)

  • 2018 — 74
  • 2019 — 420
  • 2020 — 1,043
  • As of October 2021 — 1,214

Source: KCRA 3 – Sacramento

Read more about catalytic converter theft in Sacramento

‘You Take Your Chances’: Several Cars Stripped Of Catalytic Converters At Sacramento Airport Economy Lot – CBS Sacramento News
Suspects caught stealing catalytic converters from cars at Sacramento International Airport – ABC10 News

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to install a straight pipe in California?

No. In California, it is illegal to modify your exhaust system. Not only will you fail required smog checks, but you can also be heavily fined.

What is the state of California doing to prevent catalytic converter theft?

Senate Bill – 919 introduced by Senator Jones on February 3, 2022, aims to deter and provide stricter penalties for catalytic converter theft by making it harder to resale a stolen catalytic converter. This bill has not been enacted into law but is set for hearing on April 4th, 2022.

Key Changes

Section 1:
“This bill would prohibit a dealer or retail seller from selling a motor vehicle equipped with a catalytic converter unless the catalytic converter has been engraved, etched, or otherwise permanently marked with the vehicle identification number of the vehicle to which it is attached.”

Section 2:
This bill would also prohibit any person, except as exempted, from removing, altering, or obfuscating the vehicle identification number engraved, etched, or otherwise marked on a catalytic converter.

Section 3:
This bill would prohibit the purchase, sale, receipt, or possession of a stolen catalytic converter, as specified. The bill would specify that a peace officer need not have actual knowledge that the catalytic converter is stolen to establish probable cause for arrest and that in a prosecution of the section, circumstantial evidence may be used to prove the stolen nature of the catalytic converter.

Section 4:
This bill would prohibit a core recycler from purchasing or otherwise receiving any catalytic converter that is not engraved, etched, or otherwise permanently marked with the vehicle identification number of the vehicle that it was removed from. This bill would also require a core recycler to maintain a log that includes a description of all catalytic converters purchased or received, as specified.