Walz holds ceremonial bill signing to crack down on catalytic converter theft

Walz signs Catalytic Converter Bill into law
Walz signs Catalytic Converter Bill into law(Quinn Gorham)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, MN (GRAY) -- On Tuesday, Governor Tim Walz held a ceremonial bill signing to celebrate the passage of a new law aimed at cracking down on catalytic converter thefts in the State of Minnesota.

Thefts of the highly valuable car part have been on the rise in recent years, a phenomenon that law enforcement experts attribute mainly to convenience and word of mouth.

“Really, it takes two minutes to pull up to a car, pull saws out, and take off the catalytic converter. Unfortunately, social media has a lot to do with it because we’re hearing more and more about this 24/7,” said Brian Sturgeon, Chief of Police for the West St. Paul Police Department.

Until the law was passed, there was little that could be done about the stolen parts. “Law enforcement around the state would stop a car and find four or five cut-off converters in the backseat. They had no probable cause to search them,” said State Senator John Marty.

The newly passed law requires all catalytic converters that are removed from vehicles to be identified before they can be sold. Without that identification, those parts can’t be sold. It also forbids the sale of catalytic converters to anyone who is not a licensed scrap metal dealer.

“If you’re a person either stealing or buying these catalytic converters, there needs to be a harsh penalty for it. We need to disincentivize a crime that was all too easy for both to do and apparently, before the legislation, all too easy to remove,” Walz said.

Marty explained that it was a years-long process to get the legislation passed, and although it won’t stop stolen converters from being sold out of state, it will make the crime much more inconvenient. “It’s not going to end the crime. We know that, but it will make it a lot harder for people to sell and evade,” he said.

Minnesota is the first state in the country to pass such a law, and the leaders of the legislation hope to be a resource for other states to follow suit. “Auto theft investigators have said this would be model legislation, so law enforcement and prosecutors are going to be talking to colleagues around the country,” Marty said.

The new law will go into effect on August 1.