Catalytic Converter Thefts Plummet Following New Laws, Police Crackdown,   Steph Machado, January 23, 2024 

PROVIDENCE — For a while, it seemed you couldn’t go a week without hearing a news report about thieves stealing catalytic converters, a pricey part of a vehicle’s exhaust system. 

Criminals seeking cash for the valuable precious metals were stealing the parts from cars parked in driveways, city highway departments, and in public parking lots in broad daylight. The speed with which the parts could be stolen made it difficult for police to catch criminals in the act, and at least one Warwick businessman took matters into his own hands in 2022 by putting an Apple AirTag in his truck’s converter, then tracking the thief to a nearby gas station. 

But thefts of the expensive car part have plummeted over the past year in the Providence metro area, which was hard-hit during the height of the problem in 2021 and 2022. 

Law enforcement officials attribute the precipitous drop to new laws targeting scrap metal dealers, efforts by detectives to catch the thieves, and significant local and national attention on the problem. 

In Providence, the crime has decreased eight-fold in the past year. There were 631 reports of stolen catalytic converters in 2022, according to data provided by the police department. That number dropped to just 73 thefts reported in 2023. (Each reported theft could include multiple converters.) 

Colonel Oscar Perez, the Providence police chief, attributed the drop in part to the new state law holding scrap metal businesses accountable for ensuring the parts they purchase aren’t stolen. 

“Now, when someone steals a catalytic converter and goes to try and sell it, they have to provide documentation,” Perez said in an interview with the Globe and Rhode Island PBS slated to air this Sunday. “But it’s also the collaboration between different federal agencies and municipalities,” including detectives who proactively went after frequent offenders. 

“The fact that we stepped up to stay on top of that has minimized and lowered those numbers,” Perez said. Continue Article