ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new Albuquerque city ordinance is expected to make it harder for criminals to resell stolen catalytic converters. The new rules force metal recyclers to keep far more information on people who they’re buying catalytic converters from, while also forcing sellers to produce more documentation to complete the sale.
Mayor Tim Keller signed the ordinance at a news conference Tuesday. It comes as catalytic converter theft has increased in the city. An Albuquerque Police lieutenant said the department received nearly 1,300 catalytic converter thefts reported in 2022.
“We understand there’s going to be people that are not reporting them because it’s just cheaper to get it done without contacting your insurance company,” said APD Lieutenant J. Barnard. “The number could easily be two to three times that, so you could be seeing ten or more catalytic converters stolen a day.”
Albuquerque Police say thieves are stealing the specific part most often from Chevrolet and Toyota cars. Most of the time, the part is taken from cars parked on the street or in parking lots.
Part of a car’s exhaust system, catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium. The part often resells to metal dealers for $200 to $500 dollars. Meanwhile, replacing the part can often cost car owners thousands of dollars.
The new ordinance specifically requires any second hand metal dealer to keep records of every single purchase of a secondhand catalytic converter. That record is required to be kept for one-year from the date of purchase. The purchaser also can’t resell or alter the part until 15 days after it was purchased, according to the new rules.
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In their records, metal dealers now need to keep the name, address and date of birth of the seller as printed on a valid, government-issue photo ID card. Dealers also need to record what type of ID card the seller used, the jurisdiction it was issued from, and the ID card number.
According to the ordinance, metal dealers must also record the year, make, model and VIN for each vehicle the catalytic converter was removed from. Dealers are also required to make sure the part they’re receiving matches the vehicle that the part was taken from.
Metal dealers also need to keep a copy of the certificate of title or other verifiable documentation indicating that the person has an ownership interest in the vehicle the converter part was removed from. Police are also allowed to inspect records during the business’ operating hours.
Anyone caught violating the ordinance within the City of Albuquerque can be charged with a misdemeanor crime. Each day of violation shall be considered a separate offense, according to the legislation which was sponsored by Albuquerque City Councilor Renee Grout.
The councilor also owns an Albuquerque car shop called “The Auto Clinic.” Representing much of the southeast heights and Four Hills area, Grout replaced Don Harris in January 2022.
“Hopefully it will slow the theft,” Councilor Grout said of the city ordinance Tuesday. “We’re working in Santa Fe, and we hope the legislation up there passes.”
Grout is referring to a similar law that state lawmakers are considering in Senate Bill 133. It would require scrap metal dealers to collect detailed information from anyone trying to sell a standalone catalytic converter, including proof of identity through a valid I.D. card, and proof that the person owns the vehicle the converter part came from.