The Minnesota House passed a bill Monday night in a 113-15 vote to address the staggering rise in catalytic converter thefts across the state.
“There’s been a surge in recent years and currently State Farm estimates that Minnesota ranks in the top five for converter theft insurance claims,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, lead author of the bill.
She pointed to the U.S. Department of Justice’s November takedown of a nationwide converter theft ring that netted its participants over $500 million.
“With criminal enterprises and conspiracies of this scale, it’s no surprise that Minnesotans are calling for us to do more,” she said.
Catalytic converters are a component of a vehicle’s exhaust system and they contain precious metals in their center to help reduce pollutants. They are targeted for theft because of the high value of these metals.
According to the DOJ, the black-market price for catalytic converters can be above $1,000 each. As Richardson noted, victims are often stuck with bills for over $2,000 to replace a stolen converter.
Richardson’s bill makes it a crime to possess a used catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle unless it is “marked with the date the converter was removed from the vehicle and the identification number of the vehicle from which the converter was removed.”
The bill imposes several requirements on scrap metal dealers, including a ban on purchasing converters unless they are marked with an ID number and sold by a person who provides a copy of the vehicle’s title or registration.
Dealers would also be required to submit to periodic audits, train their employees on the law, register with the Department of Public Safety, and keep converters on their premises for at least seven days after purchase, according to a House research summary.
The bill now heads to the Minnesota Senate.