In communities big and small across the state, thefts of catalytic converters are on the rise. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Minnesota is now in the top 5 states nationally for these thefts and in Eden Prairie alone, we are on pace to almost triple the number of reported catalytic converter thefts!
Why are these thefts on the rise? Catalytic converters contain valuable precious metals, like palladium and rhodium, which are worth more per ounce than gold. These converters can be resold on the black or grey market, and the converters themselves are quite easy to steal. Taking only 1-2 minutes, someone can cut a catalytic converter out from underneath a car and sell it for up to $300. Yet for car owners, getting one replaced can cost up to $3000. This has become an easy and lucrative approach for thieves, and we must take action.
That’s why I’ve signed on as a co-author to legislation, SF 890, that takes steps to address this growing problem. This legislation takes a targeted approach to tighten up the resale market for these converters, and will go a long way in making it more difficult to make a quick buck. It prohibits anyone other than a licensed scrap metal dealer from buying used converters, prohibits scrap dealers from buying catalytic converters from anyone other than a bona fide auto repair or auto recycling business, and prohibits scrap dealers from paying cash for used converters.
It also makes it unlawful for an individual to possess a used converter, not attached to a car, unless the owner has documentation of legitimate removal and ownership (this would enable law enforcement to seize stolen converters, so victims of theft could work with police to show that the converters were stolen). Right now when law enforcement find people with multiple converters in their possession, they do not have the ability to press charges, even if these are likely stolen.
While we cannot completely eliminate these thefts, we can make it more difficult for thieves to transport and sell stolen converters, and SF890 lays out reasonable and appropriate ways to do so. This is not the only legislation at the Capitol to address catalytic converter theft, and I know that legislators on both sides of the aisle are concerned about it. Together with my colleagues, I am hopeful we will work to pass this legislation into law.
State Senator, District 48, Steve Cwodzinski
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