Auto repair shops across Hawaii are seeing more cars needing a new catalytic converter, but because thefts of the valuable part are spiking, it’s taking longer to get replacement parts.
“I would say nine out of every 10 of the vehicles that do come in, we’re waiting for parts, and the parts delays are a lot longer than your normal one to two weeks,” said Michael Chong, president of Auto Body Painting Association of Hawaii.
Chong not only leads the association, but also owns UniBody Auto Tech Collision in Mapunapuna.
In early February, one of his technicians parked his truck outside the shop, where thieves stole its catalytic converter.
“This was broad daylight, it happened exactly at noon,” said Chong. “We have it on surveillance cameras, showing them waiting, and then going under the truck, cutting the catalytic converter and putting it into a duffel bag, and actually walking off the property.”
State lawmakers are trying to crack down on these thefts.
They’re proposing a bill that would require buyers of used car parts to ask for proof of ownership from the seller.
If not, the buyer would be required to report it to the police.
“We’re going to make sure that the people that is receiving it, if they get caught buying without these documentation, or requesting the documentation, that they also can lose their license of recycling,” said Sen. Kurt Fevella.
Catalytic converter thefts would face a Class C penalty.
“So what we’re hoping is that the criminals wants to get wind of this of this new bill, and that they’re now facing...
...stiffer penalties, you know, that hopefully, it deters them,” said Honolulu Crimestoppers Coordinator Chris Kim.
Chong believes this is a step in the right direction.
“I actually think that’s a good positive step to move, because of the fact that if the recyclers are responsible for information or where the catalytic converters from, I think that’ll deter thieves to actually go in and cut these converters off,” said Chong.
Chong added the association is gathering data on catalytic converter theft claims from insurance companies statewide. They want to show just how serious the issue has become.