Oct 26, 2021 - News

Minneapolis considers crackdown on catalytic converter theft

More than a dozen catalytic converters lay on top of each other.

Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A proposed Minneapolis ordinance aims to pump the brakes on the city's surging catalytic converter theft problem.

Why it matters: Catalytic converter thefts increased from 124 reports in 2019 to 1,076 in 2020, according to MinnPost, which cited Minneapolis Police Department data. And the problem has gotten even worse in 2021.

  • Catalytic converters cost thousands of dollars to replace and leave people without transportation.

What's happening: A Minneapolis committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday on an ordinance that would prevent the sale of catalytic converters that aren't attached to a vehicle, unless the seller is a "bona fide" auto repair business, per the ordinance's language.

  • That's defined by the city as businesses with licenses to install, remove, replace or maintain the devices.

Between the lines: Catalytic converters contain rhodium, platinum, and palladium. Prices for those precious metals were increasing even before the pandemic, setting off a spike in thefts.

  • "After removal from an automobile, whether done so legally or illegally, a catalytic converter can be reabsorbed into the supply chain with little to no traceability," according to a city staff report.

Zoom out: This is a national and statewide problem, which is why the Legislature passed a $400,000 pilot program to pay for car owners to have their catalytic converters engraved with their vehicles' identification numbers, per Minnesota Reformer.

  • St. Paul police, meanwhile, are offering to spray paint the parts because many scrapyards won't buy the converters if they've been marked, according to MPR News.

How to watch: The hearing for the ordinance, authored by Council Member Andrew Johnson, will be streamed here Tuesday at 1:30pm.


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