Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove incorrect information about catalytic converter theft enforcement. 17 news regrets the mistake.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It’s an exhausting issue for car owners and law enforcement alike. On Wednesday night, the Bakersfield City Council moved towards cracking down on thieves that are running rampant, but several councilmembers were hesitant.

Steve McGlothin, Owner of ‘No Muff Too Tuff’ Muffler Shop, has seen too many customers fall victim to pesky catalytic converter thieves.

“They are costing on average, $1,000,” said McGlothin. “If they have a 2020 Toyota Tundra, they’re out $8,200.”

McGlothin thinks catalytic converter thieves should get harsher punishments as it can take thousands of dollars to repair a car after the crime.

“They steal resonators, pipes, they cut brake lines, AC lines, oil lines,” McGlothin says. “They’re not only just the converter damage they are causing.”

McGlothin has completely purchased catalytic converters that are offered to him, he says there is just “no way of knowing if they are stolen” and that in the past he would simply “take someone’s word for it.”

Wednesday evening, the city council also took one step closer toward adopting a municipal ordinance, modeled after a similar one in the City of Artesia in Los Angeles County. The ordinance would allow prosecutors to charge suspected catalytic converter thieves with a misdemeanor if they don’t have proper documentation of ownership.

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 2,200.

Ward Two Councilmember Andrae Gonzales believes there is a gap between car manufacturers and law enforcement to deter crime, he thinks the ordinance will help fill that gap or at least serve as a warning shot to criminals.

“We know that this is a huge problem in the city,” said Councilmember Gonzales. “I know this is just something that some of us in the council believe will allow us to get at the growing issue.”

Several on the council were hesitant, weighing the constitutionality of the ordinance and questioning if this would create legal headaches for the city. But after more than an hour of deliberation, the council voted 4-3 to move forward with this proposal. The first draft will be read at the council’s August meeting and if all goes as planned the ordinance would go into effect as early as Sept. 31.

“I am hoping that Sacramento will come up with state legislation that will put more teeth on this particular issue,” said Gonzales.

Several bills targeting the crime are working their way to the Governor’s desk, including one that would require car manufacturers to mark converters with a vehicle ID number starting in 2024.

“I don’t think that the City of Bakersfield personally should be waiting on Sacramento and we need to take some action,” said Gonzales.

The Bakersfield City Council will read the first draft on August 17, 2022.