Letter: Minnesota will soon sign bill into law to address catalytic converter thefts
Sen. John Marty writes, "A typical converter theft will cost a car owner between $2,000 - $3,000 to replace, as well as problems caused by a wait of a month or more to get the converter replaced so that their car can be driven again."
A thief can make off with a catalytic converter from your car in less than two minutes, leaving you with a noisy, polluting car that’s no longer legal to drive.
The theft itself happens fast, as did the rise in how often it occurs. In the last three years, catalytic converter theft increased more than 12-fold nationwide. Unfortunately, Minnesota has the third-highest number of catalytic converter thefts in the country, ranking behind only Texas and California.
The only thing about catalytic converter theft that doesn’t happen fast is getting action to stop this growing problem. For three years, I authored legislation to make it easier for police to arrest someone stealing them, and harder for thieves to sell the stolen parts.
Two years ago, the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators suggested six policy changes needed to crack down on catalytic converter thefts; they recognized that my legislation met each of those recommendations. According to the theft investigators, this legislation would help car owners. Law enforcement agencies across the state supported the bill.
Over the last three years, I have heard from Minnesotans and law enforcement officials from numerous communities about the extent of the problem. A typical converter theft will cost a car owner between $2,000 - $3,000 to replace, as well as problems caused by a wait of a month or more to get the converter replaced so that their car can be driven again.
Thefts are reported regularly in Maplewood, Moorhead, Minneapolis, and across the state.
In Rochester, 24 school bus converters were stolen in one evening.
Aside from thieves and businesses that profit off stolen goods, it was hard to imagine who would oppose the legislation. Yet I was unable to get a hearing from the Senate Republican leadership. They blocked the bill’s progress repeatedly, ignoring my requests for hearings, and refusing to even give a reason for not doing so.
Fortunately, this year, a new DFL Senate committee chair promptly scheduled a hearing. The bill has now passed the Senate and is awaiting final action in the House. Just over two months after the start of session, the bill will soon be signed into law.
No law will eliminate a crime like theft, but after years of state inaction, Minnesota is taking significant steps – all the steps recommended by investigators – to reduce the rampant catalytic converter theft problem in our communities.
This is the kind of legislation that Minnesotans have been waiting for, common-sense ideas, to prevent crime. Such work should not be delayed for years due to partisan gridlock. Much work remains to be done, but progress on this issue, and good-faith efforts at the Capitol are a cause for optimism and a good sign of things to come.
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, is author of the catalytic converter theft legislation. He is chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.