Victims, police in favor of proposed MN bill that targets catalytic converter thieves

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 5:43 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A new Minnesota law is aiming to crack down on catalytic converter thieves, making it illegal to sell or posses the used car parts.

Over 100 catalytic converter thefts have been reported in Fargo and Moorhead just within the last two months, but so far there haven’t been any arrests.

“We have investigations working and looking for patterns, we have patrol trying to do more proactive policing, but this is such a random act,” Moorhead Police Captain Deric Swenson said. “It’s really easy to sell them and it’s very easy to purchase them, but it’s really hard for us to get ahead of the game. We’re playing catch up from way behind.”

“You can’t expect them to watch every property at two o’clock in the morning for thieves that can steal a two thousand, three thousand dollar part in the in 15 minutes,” Lars Odegaard, owner of Solo Drywall said.

Odegaard became one of the latest victims on the North Dakota side, when thieves were caught on camera stealing the converter off his Toyota Prius outside his south Fargo shop. Odegaard says they think three more of his cars were hit, too.

“The Prius itself was $2,800 dollars and I’ve been out the car since then!” he said.

Odegaard says he had this happen on another car last year that was parked at the back of his shop.

“And so we thought, the nicer vehicles that we have, we’ll park them in the front of the shop, park them in front of the camera. Well, here we are again!”

A proposed Minnesota bill would make it so only licensed scrap dealers would be able to buy used catalytic converters and would need to provide proof that they own parts. The bill would also make it illegal to possess used converters not attached to a car.

“That means if people are stealing these, but unable to sell them, there’s really no reason for them to invest their time into committing a crime to steal a useless piece of equipment,” Capt. Swenson said.

So far, there’s no such bill in North Dakota, which is something both Swenson and Odegaard say they hope changes.

“We have that concern as a border city, ‘Is this going to make a difference for us?’’ because of the fact that they can just take a five-minute drive and have regular business,” Capt. Swenson said.

“I think they need to be talking about it right now, regardless of what Minnesota does!”

Minnesota State Senator John Marty introduced a similar bill last year, but it didn’t get a hearing. He says he thinks there will be strong bipartisan support this year.

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