North Dakota Senate passes bill targeting catalytic converter theft
"We're trying to create this trail that would be easier for people to catch and find the people that are doing it," said Sen. Doug Larsen, R-Mandan
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers have revved up another effort to target thefts of vehicle anti-pollution devices that contain precious metals.
The state Senate on Friday, Feb. 3, unanimously passed Senate Bill 2299, brought by Sen. Shawn Vedaa, R-Velva. The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives, where a similar Senate bill failed in 2021.
The bill would tighten the sale of detached catalytic converters with recordkeeping requirements and by banning scrap metal dealers from paying over $100 cash for the devices, among other restrictions.
"The concept is we're trying to create this trail that would be easier for people to catch and find the people that are doing it," said Sen. Doug Larsen, R-Mandan.
The bill also would criminalize theft of the devices with a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on value and repair costs.
The anti-pollution devices are sought for the precious metals inside them, including palladium, platinum and rhodium, which remove pollutants from vehicle exhaust.
Catalytic converters on cars and pickups will contain 2 to 6 grams of the metals. Vehicles with bigger engines could have as many as 30 grams. Recoverable amounts are smaller. Emission standards and cost of the metals determine the ratio in which the metals are used.
The Burleigh County Sheriff's Department in 2021 saw a rise in reported catalytic converter thefts, from two in 2020 to six or seven the next year. Its Investigations Section began working with local recycling businesses, and focused patrol efforts in certain areas to have more contact with suspects in such cases, according to Maj. Jim Hulm.
"The efforts have appeared to have been successful for our jurisdiction, as the number of catalytic converter thefts dropped to only two reports in 2022," he said.