The Minnesota House on Monday passed a bill (HF30) with broad support, 113-5, to crack down on catalytic converter thefts. The companion bill is still making its way through the state Senate.
Minnesota is one of the worst states for catalytic converter thefts in the United States. Thefts have skyrocketed in recent years: Nationally, the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that thefts increased by 1,215% between 2019 and 2022. Last year, Minnesota was part of a nationwide catalytic converter theft ring bust.
The bill’s been around for several years but never got a hearing in the GOP-held Senate. Former GOP Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller owns a scrap yard. Miller’s office did not return a request for comment.
The bill would require catalytic converters to be labeled with the original vehicle’s VIN number once removed from the car. The legislation also adds criminal penalties for theft and additional tracking requirements for sales of the parts. While the bill won’t prevent thieves from selling parts out of state, DFL lawmakers say the point is to make it harder to steal and sell catalytic converters.
Catalytic converters can be sawed off in just a few minutes, and scrappers can pocket hundreds of dollars per converter. Mark Kulda, a spokesperson for the Insurance Federation of Minnesota, said it’s also getting more expensive to replace a catalytic converter, and the wait times have worsened.
“The body shops that fix these … they have the same supply chain and labor problems that everybody has,” Kulda said. “And they reflect that in what they charge in repair costs.”
West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon said he supports the bill in a press conference ahead of the vote and mentioned that some West St. Paul residents have had their catalytic converters stolen up to three times.
“This is one area of criminal activity that we cannot arrest our way out of alone,” Sturgeon said. “We need prevention, we need education, we need enforcement and most importantly, we need regulation.”
Republican Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-Sartell, introduced an amendment to add specifically that someone must “intentionally” purchase or possess a stolen catalytic converter in order to be charged. The amendment failed on a voice vote, and the chief author of the bill Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, said the intent is already “built into criminal law.”
Editor’s note: The Minnesota Reformer is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to keeping Minnesotans informed and unearthing stories other outlets can’t or won’t tell.
Minnesota Reformer intern Grace Deng wrote this piece. This story originally appeared in the Minnesota Reformer on Feb. 20.
We offer several ways for our readers to provide feedback. Your comments are welcome on our social media posts (Facebook, X, Instagram, Threads, and LinkedIn). We also encourage Letters to the Editor; submission guidelines can be found on our Contact Us page. If you believe this story has an error or you would like to get in touch with the author, please connect with us.