Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the Department of Justice to send a team to Long Island to work with local police departments on catalytic converter thefts. Newsday TV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: James Carbone/ Drew Singh

Long Island police have recorded more than 100 catalytic converter thefts in the first 30 days of this year, prompting calls for federal authorities to help curb the uptick, officials said Monday. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), speaking at a news conference with local governmental and police officials in Mineola Monday, called on the Department of Justice to provide assistance to police on Long Island as they work to prevent the thefts.

"Long Island driveways have a visible bull's-eye painted on them …" said Schumer, holding a catalytic converter. "This is what the crooks are going for. … I am urging that a dedicated team from DOJ come to Nassau PD and Suffolk PD and crack down on these rings and go after them.”

Schumer, speaking alongside Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, said while the thefts of catalytic converters are rising nationwide, the particularly high number on Long Island point to an organized effort. 

"The rate and scope of the thefts are bad," said Schumer. "This is not your average thief poking around your driveway." 

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer speaks about the increasing thefts of...

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer speaks about the increasing thefts of catalytic converters on Long Island at police headquarters in Mineola on Monday. Credit: James Carbone

Department of Justice spokeswoman Emma Dulaney said in a statement: "We have received the request and are reviewing."

There have already been 118 catalytic converter thefts reported to the two largest police departments on Long Island this year, according to police statistics provided by Schumer's office. Nassau County police have documented 69 thefts — some two daily — of catalytic converters, which filter out harmful byproducts in automobile emissions, so far this month. Suffolk County police have investigated 49 thefts in the same time period. 

Catalytic converter thefts on Long Island have skyrocketed over the past year. The number of catalytic converter thefts in Nassau County jumped 385.6% in 2022 when there were 2,292 documented up from the 472 reported in 2021, according to the police statistics. In 2019, just one catalytic converter theft was reported in Nassau. In Suffolk County, the thefts increased 460.9% last year, when there were 1,581 thefts reported up from the 282 in 2021. 

The devices are rich in lucrative metals, making them an attractive target for thieves. Victims can be stuck with car repairs costs upward of $3,000.

As part of an effort to crackdown, Nassau police last month seized thousands of stolen catalytic converters and more than $3 million in cash from brothers who operated a pair of Island Park scrap yards as part of a yearlong investigation into thefts of the devices.

Matthew Gitto, a software engineer from New Hyde Park, said Monday that he discovered a thief had made off with his Honda's catalytic converter while starting his car to head to a recent Islander's game. 

He didn't immediately report the crime to police, instead opting to get a ride from a friend to the game (the Islanders won). His car took about a week to repair and he was on the hook for a little more than half of the $2,400 bill after insurance, he said. 

"It’s kind of annoying to think about every time you start your car," said Gitto. "Is it going to happen again?" 

Latest videos

DON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access