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California is a hotspot for catalytic converter theft. Will new laws make a difference?

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Mechanic Alex Esparza works on a catalytic converter of a vehicle at Van Ness Auto Repair in Fresno on Sept. 13, 2022. 



A beam of light glints beneath Isaac Agyeman’s 2009 Prius, parked outside his Temecula home early one August morning.  One person is under the hatchback, another by its side and a third is stationed nearby. After a few mechanical roars and a quick scoot out from under the car, all three hurry away.

It was the second time Agyeman’s catalytic converter — which scrubs a car’s emissions to make them less toxic and contains precious metals —  had been stolen. This time, he caught the whole thing on camera. 

“I was upset. I was really frustrated,” he said. He filed a police report, sent them the footage and called his insurance company. On top of everything, it was his birthday. 

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The value of the precious metals in converters, particularly rhodium, has skyrocketed since late 2019. Rhodium is currently valued about eight times the price of gold. 

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In June the Fremont Police Department found approximately 300 suspected stolen catalytic converters at Arrow Recovery in Fremont, California. 

This article was originally published by CalMatters.  You can read more of their coverage of California state government on