BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The City of Bakersfield is inching closer to adopting policy that would help law enforcement crack down on catalytic converter thefts.

The Safe Neighborhoods and Community Relations Committee today continued discussion on a proposed municipal ordinance modeled after a similar one in the City of Artesia in LA County.

If adopted, the ordinance would allow prosecutors to charge a thief with a misdemeanor if the perpetrator has multiple catalytic converters without proper documentation of ownership.

Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry says there are challenges to enforcing this type of theft. That’s because officers can only arrest a person on suspicion of stealing a catalytic converter if the thief is caught in the act.

There is currently no penal code for this kind of crime.

In 2019, BPD responded to 179 reports of catalytic converter thefts. In 2020, that number rose to 561. Last year, it spiked to more than 22-hundred.

The ordinance will now be drafted and first reading will take place in July.