Stealing a catalytic converter can take just a matter of seconds, and it can net a thief up to $500 when sold to a scrap metal dealer for the precious metals it contains.
And to a victim, the cost of replacing a catalytic converter can be financially devastating.
These thefts are “skyrocketing,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), who sponsors a bill that aims to keep scrap metal dealers from buying stolen converters.
“These thefts are hurting Minnesotan’s pocketbooks as the replacement costs can exceed $2,000 or result in a total loss to the vehicle,” she said.
HF30 would add requirements for scrap metal dealers when purchasing catalytic converters, including marking a catalytic converter with an identifying number, and establishing criminal penalties for the unauthorized possession or purchase of a catalytic converter.
The House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill Monday and sent it to the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.
National insurance groups estimate that Minnesota is in the top five states for filing insurance claims for catalytic converter thefts, Richardson said.
Victims of catalytic converter thefts face “huge burdens and undue stress” when they cannot use their vehicles to do critical tasks such as getting to work, taking children to school, and getting to health care appointments, said Brian Sturgeon, police chief in West St. Paul.
Sturgeon supports the bill because of the steps it takes to make it difficult for thieves to sell to scrap metal dealers and to hold dishonest scrap dealers accountable for accepting stolen goods.
Those provisions are key, said Sturgeon, because catching a thief in the act is difficult due to how fast a thief can remove a catalytic converter. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”