Catalytic converter thefts crackdown: Bill signed into law

A bill that advocates say will make it harder for thieves to sell stolen catalytic converters is now law in Minnesota.

Governor Walz held a ceremonial signing ceremony for the legislation on Tuesday.

Under the new law, scrap dealers are required to record information about the catalytic converter purchase, including the identity of the seller, the license plate, and the description of their vehicle, while requiring the seller to sign a statement under perjury that the converter isn't stolen.

If the converter comes to the shop detached from a vehicle, the scrap dealer is also required to get more detailed information about the vehicle it was removed from. The dealers are also set to face audits from the Department of Public Safety.

The new law also makes it illegal to possess a used catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle - unless it has proper identifying information for the vehicle it was removed or is certified as a replacement part.

The law takes effect starting in August.

RELATED: Top 15 cars targeted for catalytic converter theft in Minnesota

In recent years, thefts of catalytic converters have surged, with thieves able to rake hundreds of dollars for the auto part when sold to a scrap dealer. The converters, which help cars filter out pollutants in your car's emission, contain precious metals including platinum, palladium, and rhodium. For vehicle owners, repair costs can range into thousands of dollars.

Minnesota ranks third in catalytic converter thefts, according to the state Department of Commerce. Particularly at risk are high-profile vehicles that have easily accessible converters or hybrid vehicles, like a Toyota Prius, that have more precious metals.

The new law had the backing of police chiefs who asked lawmakers to do something to combat the ramped thefts.

"Law enforcement, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem," West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon told lawmakers during a hearing in January. "We need legislative action."