catalytic converter

In recent years, catalytic converter theft has become a growing concern for vehicle owners nationwide, and Minnesota is no exception. Catalytic converters play a crucial role in reducing harmful emissions from vehicles. These vital components contain platinum, palladium and rhodium, which are high-value precious metals that make catalytic converters an attractive target for thieves.

Understanding Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converter theft has surged in popularity among criminals due to the rising prices of precious metals. The theft involves cutting the catalytic converter from a vehicle’s exhaust system, a process that can be completed swiftly and quietly. Unfortunately, this leaves vehicle owners with not only a hefty repair bill but also an environmentally harmful vehicle emitting pollutants without the essential emissions control device.

Minnesota Criminal Laws on Catalytic Converter Theft

In response to the growing prevalence of catalytic converter theft, Minnesota has implemented specific criminal laws to address and penalize those involved in such activities. The bill, HF 30, was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz in March 2023 and officially went into effect on August 1, 2023. It essentially criminalized the possession of used catalytic converters in most situations, meaning thieves can be arrested and charged even if they’re not caught in the act of stealing.

The bill also targeted scrap metal dealers who buy the converters, adding record-keeping requirements for the purchase of catalytic converters and prohibiting scrap dealers from purchasing loose catalytic converters without proper documentation proving ownership.

Criminal Damage to Property

One of the primary charges related to catalytic converter theft in Minnesota is criminal damage to property. Removing a catalytic converter without the owner’s consent constitutes damage to the vehicle, and perpetrators can be charged accordingly. Under Minnesota Statute 609.595, individuals convicted of criminal damage to property may face fines, restitution and even imprisonment, depending on the extent of the damage.

Theft and Possession of Stolen Property

In cases where the stolen catalytic converter is sold or possessed by someone other than the thief, additional charges may apply. Minnesota Statute 609.52 covers theft offenses. People convicted of theft may face penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment, depending on the value of the stolen property. The possession of stolen property is also a criminal offense under Minnesota law, with consequences similar to theft charges.

Recycling Facility Regulations

To further combat catalytic converter theft, Minnesota has introduced regulations for recycling facilities that purchase these components. Under Minnesota Statute 325E.21, recycling facilities are required to maintain records of catalytic converter transactions, including the seller’s identification information. This aims to create a trail that law enforcement can follow to track down thieves and dismantle illicit operations.

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft

While understanding the legal repercussions of catalytic converter theft is essential, taking preventive measures is equally important.

Park in Well-Lit Areas

Thieves often target vehicles parked in secluded or poorly lit areas. Parking in well-lit spaces makes it more challenging for criminals to operate undetected, reducing the risk of catalytic converter theft.

Install Security Cameras

Installing security cameras around your parking area can act as a deterrent and provide valuable evidence in the event of a theft. Visible cameras may discourage potential thieves, while hidden cameras can capture important details if a crime occurs.

Use Catalytic Converter Protection Devices

Several aftermarket devices are available to make it more difficult for thieves to remove catalytic converters. These devices, such as catalytic converter locks and shields, can add an extra layer of security to your vehicle.

Engrave Your VIN or Participate in Minnesota’s Catalytic Converter Pilot

Engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter makes it less appealing to thieves and aids law enforcement in tracking stolen components. Minnesota vehicle owners can also go to police departments or auto shops that participate in the state’s catalytic converter theft prevention pilot program to have a unique number etched into their catalytic converter.

Do You Require Legal Representation in the Minneapolis–St. Paul Area?

Being aware of the prevalence of catalytic converter theft and staying informed about local incidents can help you stay vigilant. If you notice any suspicious activity around vehicles or see someone tampering with exhaust systems, it’s important to report it to the authorities promptly.

If you or a family member are facing catalytic converter theft charges in the state of Minnesota and you’re looking for experienced criminal defense representation, our team at the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) can help you find an attorney.

Start by giving us a call at (612) 752-6699 or contact us on our website today.