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:


Man crushed to death while apparently trying to steal car’s catalytic converter: Anaheim police – KTLA News
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

Bakersfield police arrest two in catalytic converter theft during Marketplace operation – Bakersfield Now
Bakersfield man arrested in connection to catalytic converter theft – Yahoo News
Woman wanted for catalytic converter theft in Bakersfield – KMPH News
Catalytic converter theft caught on camera – KGET News
Catalytic converter theft: The common denominator for Bakersfield residents – Bakersfield News


Caught on Cam: Thieves cut and steal catalytic converter in under a minute – KMPH News
Fresno Area Man Arrested for Operating Business to Buy and Sell Stolen Catalytic Converters – US Department of Justice
Video: Two caught on camera during catalytic converter theft in Fresno – KMPH News
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 Brothers Indicted In Catalytic Converter Scam: Prosecutors – Patch
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

California family involved in $600 million catalytic converter theft scheme – FOX 11 Los Angeles
Catalytic converter theft, which soared during the pandemic, is now falling – Crosstown
Catalytic converter thefts make LA County ‘a hotspot’ – KCRW News
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

Suspected Catalytic Converter Thieves Arrested Near Oceanside Police Headquarters – NBC 7 San Diego
Three people arrested for possession of stolen catalytic converters – San Diego County News
Catalytic converter thefts sweep through San Diego, worrying residents – inewsource
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

    Catalytic converter theft claims fell in first half of year, first time in 3 years, State Farm says – CBS News
    3 California family members plead guilty in $600 million nationwide catalytic converter theft scheme – CBN News
    Catalytic converter thefts reported at Sacramento Airport, suspect arrested – KCRA News
    ‘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.