Cathedral City Council Prepares to make possession of catalytic converter without proof of ownership unlawful.

CATHERAL CITY —In 2021, 24 catalytic converters were stolen in Cathedral City. In 2022, 75 were stolen in Cathedral City and in 2023 to date, 36 have been stolen in Cathedral City, according to Police Chief George Crum.

So, the City Council is coming to his aid.

The Council on Wednesday is poised to pass second reading and adopt an ordinance making the possession of a catalytic converter without proof of ownership unlawful.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emissions control device located underneath automobiles between the exhaust manifold and the muffler. These devices contain precious metal such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, some of which are valued at several thousand dollars per ounce. The catalytic converter is easily accessible on most vehicles.

According to Crum, the vehicle parts thefts are on the rise because individuals are incentivized to commit thefts for multiple reasons including: (1) the ease and undetectable nature of committing such thefts, potentially in a matter of seconds and through the use of common tools; (2) the ability to recycle catalytic converters at scrap metal yards for high dollar returns ranging from $200 to $1,200 per catalytic converter; and (3) loopholes in legislation protecting criminals from prosecution unless a victim can be identified.

While there have been legislative attempts in Sacramento to crack down on auto part thefts, local agencies in California have begun to pass their own ordinances to assist law enforcement in holding these thieves accountable for their crimes. Some of those agencies include the County of Riverside and the cities of Corona, Eastvale, and Palm Springs.

The proposed ordinance adds a new chapter to the Cathedral City Municipal Code. The ordinance is based on an ordinance that was adopted by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 12, 2023. The proposed ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to possess any catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle unless the person has a valid proof of ownership of the catalytic converter. Notably, the City is not required to prove the catalytic converter was stolen in order to establish the possession is not a “lawful possession.”

Under the ordinance, “documentation or other proof” could include the following types of

  • Bill of sale from the original owner with the signature of the vehicle owner
    authorizing removal of the catalytic converter, as well as the name, address,
    and telephone number of the vehicle owner.
  • Documentation from an autobody shop or similar business proving that the
    owner relinquished the catalytic converter to the autobody shop or similar
  • Verifiable electronic communication from the previous owner to the possessor
    relinquishing ownership of the catalytic converter.
  • Photographs of the vehicle from which the catalytic converter originated clearly showing the license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car from which the catalytic converter was removed.
  • The proposed ordinance also makes it unlawful to falsify or cause to be falsified any information in any documentation or other proof intended to show valid proof of ownership or possession of a catalytic converter.

A violation of this ordinance will result in criminal penalties, primarily a misdemeanor.

The City Council will meet in special session at 5 p.m. to appoint Mark Carnevale as Mayor and Nancy Ross as Mayor Pro Tem.

Image Sources

  • Catalytic converter installed in a vehicle.: RivCo