Incoming Sheriff Discusses Rise in Catalytic Converter Thefts in Las Vegas Valley

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – New Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill says he wants to work to help prevent catalytic converter thefts in the Valley.

“It’s a terrible crime,” McMahill said.

On primary election night, FOX5 asked McMahill about the increase in thefts.

“If you suffer a cut in your catalytic converter, it is very expensive to repair. It takes a lot of time. The transport of people, they do not have. It impacts you. And we have to do a better job,” McMahill said.

McMahill discussed some preventative measures.

“Part of the problem with catalytic converter theft is that you could be walking down the street with a catalytic converter and there’s no way for me to tell that catalytic converter went to that car. First, we need federal legislation to stamp them with the VIN number,” McMahill said.

Some auto shops will also etch the VIN numbers into a customer’s converter and mark it with a heat-resistant gloss paint to help identify that it has been stolen. Law enforcement agencies in the area say this will help link a suspect to a robbery and prosecute the suspect.

McMahill wants to know where the stolen converters end up.

“We know why they are stolen. This is for the rare earth material that is inside of them. But how do we know who is taking this rare earth material? Where are they taking these things and also going after these companies so that we reduce the demand for this,” McMahill said.

It is not illegal for scrap yards to purchase converters locally. One operator told FOX5 he wouldn’t buy them from people because he assumes most of them are stolen and doesn’t want to get in trouble.

Another scrapyard told FOX5 it won’t ask customers questions about where they got the converter. They don’t want front-line clerks to be put in dangerous situations where someone gets upset about these kinds of questions. Metro police have previously said some junkyards have been helpful in identifying people selling stolen converters.

“I think there is a legislative solution to this so that they can be held criminally responsible for taking this stuff. It’s not really different from the problem of copper theft that we’ve been dealing with for so long. Again unidentified, no number, that sort of thing. We also need to make it very uncomfortable for people who receive these stolen items,” McMahill said.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department just released new flight numbers on FOX5 News. The department says 852 thefts were reported from January to July 6, 2021. The number rose to 1,411 from January to July 6, 2022. However, officers have previously said the actual number of thefts could be ten times higher in due to unreported thefts. LVMPD encourages people to always report a theft, which can help them spot any possible trends in certain areas.

In addition to VIN etching, there are metal cable cages that people can install around their converters, or metal plates, to prevent theft.

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