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House passes bill aiming to curb catalytic converter thefts

Stealing a catalytic converter can take just a matter of seconds, meaning police rarely catch a thief in the act.

Therefore, Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) says another approach is needed to fight this rapidly growing crime.

She sponsors HF30, which would make it more difficult to sell stolen converters to scrap metal dealers and to hold those dealers accountable for accepting stolen goods.

The House passed the bill 113-15 Monday. It now goes to the Senate.

“Converter thefts have skyrocketed across our state,” Richardson said at an afternoon news conference.

Minnesota currently ranks fifth in insurance claims filed for catalytic converter thefts, and Richardson said costs to replace a stolen converter can exceed $2,000.

“This bill will provide additional tools to law enforcement to crack down on these thefts,” she said.

It would prohibit the possession of a detached catalytic converter with a few narrow exceptions and provide that individuals found with illegally acquired detached catalytic converters can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and/or fined up to $20,000.

Stolen catalytic converters are sold to scrap metal dealers because they contain precious metals such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium. A thief can net up to $500 for each stolen converter.

The bill would add requirements for scrap metal dealers when purchasing catalytic converters, including marking a catalytic converter with the vehicle identification number of the vehicle it was taken from.

Law enforcement agencies are often unable to track converter thefts or trace converters back to their owners. The bill would address that by requiring scrap metal dealers to keep purchased converters on site for at least seven days, prohibit cash transactions, and keep detailed records of each transaction.

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