FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2022
New Law to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft in Effect Next Month
AUGUSTA — Following increasing reports of catalytic converter thefts around the state, the Maine Legislature passed a new law, signed by Gov. Janet Mills in April, to strengthen chain of custody requirements and discourage these thefts.
“For victims of catalytic converter theft, this has been an infuriating trend,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. “The Bureau of Motor Vehicles, particularly our Enforcement Division, is proud to work with our counterparts in law enforcement, vehicle sales and recycling around the state to implement this new law and provide some peace of mind to Mainers who are worried they may be next.”
L.D. 796, “An Act Governing the Sale, Purchase, Removal, Transport and Disposal of Catalytic Converters Removed from Motor Vehicles, Governing Scrap Metal Processors and Creating the Motor Vehicle Services Fund” creates engraving and marking requirements for catalytic converters at risk of being stolen from vehicles and sold to recyclers.
Catalytic converters are exhaust emission control devices for vehicles with internal combustion engines. They are often in an external location and use valuable precious metals, making them a prime target for thieves. Federal environmental law requires the use of catalytic converters on American vehicles.
Under the new law, which goes into effect August 8, these entities are required to engrave or mark catalytic converters:
- New and used car dealers must engrave the full VIN of a vehicle on a catalytic converter unless the vehicle is sold at wholesale, or the catalytic converter is not in a location where it is clearly visible from the underside of the vehicle
- Recyclers must engrave or permanently mark either the full VIN or the recycler’s license number and stock number
- Recyclers removing catalytic converters for final disposal or deconstruction must mark the catalytic converter with the recycler’s license number and maintain a record of the catalytic converter and the method by which it was disposed
- Private individuals who remove an unmarked catalytic converter from a vehicle (other than temporarily for maintenance or repairs) must engrave or permanently mark the catalytic converter with the full VIN
Additionally, unless a catalytic converter is removed under specific circumstances in the law, any catalytic converter removed from a vehicle must be immediately permanently marked with the vehicle’s VIN. The law also includes limitations on the purchase and sale of catalytic converters by recyclers; establishes record-keeping requirements; and provides guidelines for final disposal, deconstruction and transportation of catalytic converters.
For catalytic converters which have been removed from a motor vehicle and the VIN of the motor vehicle cannot be identified, or if the catalytic converter is too damaged to mark it permanently and legibly, the person in possession of the catalytic converter must request an identification number to assign to it from the Secretary of State. Identification numbers can be requested using the complaint form available at www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/lawenforcement/index.html.
Violation of most of the provisions of the new law are Class E crimes, however
- A recycler purchasing, selling or acquiring an unengraved or unmarked catalytic converter;
- A person knowingly possessing an unmarked catalytic converter which has been removed from a motor vehicle; and
- A person who defaces or removes required markings from a catalytic converter;
Commits a Class D crime. Aggravated possession or defacing are Class C crimes.
“Anyone engaged in the sale or recycling of motor vehicles, or their parts, is encouraged to make themselves familiar with the new law,” said Deputy Secretary of State for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Cathie Curtis. “Reliable transportation is vital in a rural state like Maine, so drivers need to know their vehicles won’t have essential components taken from them by bad actors – if we all work together, we can minimize the risk.”
Full text of the new law is available at: legislature.maine.gov/backend/App/services/getDocument.aspx?documentId=86935.