Minnesota introduces catalytic converter ID to prevent thefts

The Moorhead Police Department is among several police departments in Minnesota that have started using a new method to prevent people from stealing catalytic converters.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (KVRR) – Moorhead Police is part of a pilot program paid through a state-funded grant estimated at more than $100,000 where they mark catalytic converters using serial numbers unique to each.

A Moorhead police detective says there’s been a correlation with steel prices rising since 2020 and catalytic converter thefts across the country.

“There’s three precious metals inside. Palladium, Rhodium and Platinum and inside of the catalyst and that’s inside this metal shell. It does what it does to clean the exhaust when it comes out and removes what it’s supposed to remove. Those metals are worth a significant amount of money and that’s why people cut them off and steal them and then they get scrapped and they pay for them,” Moorhead Police Detective Nick Schultz said.

Police will be able to check the numbers on stolen converters.

“It’ll actually take this code and etch it into the metal itself. The sticker will stay there. It’s designed to take the high heat of that catalytic converter, but even if the sticker peels off, there will still be that etching of metal just like somebody were to laser engrave it,” Schultz said.

Schultz says the highest targeted vehicles involve trucks or heavy vans used for businesses among other fuel efficient vehicles. F-series pickups, Toyota Prius, Honda Element and other fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Two main reasons for that is either ease of theft or the amount of the precious metal that’s inside of the catalytic converter that makes it more valuable. Instead of getting $100 for one, some of them are worth upwards of $1,000 just because there’s so much more metal in there,” Schultz said.

Since 2020, Moorhead police say 141 catalytic converters have been stolen or damaged in the city.

Minnesotans can contact police to see if their vehicle qualifies to participate in the program.

Categories: Community, Crime, Local News, Minnesota News, Moorhead