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An Echo Press Editorial: Minnesota ranks 5th in U.S. for this type of theft

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

CatConv 003.jpg
Catalytic converters usually last the lifetime of a vehicle unless something else in the engine malfunctions and causes it to clog up.
Echo Press file photo
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Here’s a new type of crime that Douglas County residents should be aware of — catalytic converter thefts.

The converters, which are connected to vehicle exhaust systems, contain precious metals that are selling at higher rates than usual, making them a prime target for thievery.

These thefts have been in the Alexandria Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office blotter more than a few times. The Echo Press did a story about it in 2021. An Alexandria repair shop owner said he wasn’t surprised to see catalytic converter thefts on the rise and added that the sale point for precious metals was the highest price he’d seen in the 17 years he’s owned the shop.

In our story, Douglas County Sheriff Sgt. Mike Tvrdik called the converter thefts a crime of opportunity. He noted that these cases are much more difficult to prosecute because it’s hard to prove that a universal catalytic converter came from a specific theft.

The cost of getting a new converter can be anywhere between $500 and $1,500.

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These kinds of crimes show no signs of slowing down.

Last month, State Farm released information about the number of claims filed for catalytic converter thefts. Minnesota ranked as the fifth highest in the nation. Its analysis of auto claims from July 2021 – June 2022 showed that thefts of catalytic converters continue to increase.

Nationwide, there were more than 43,219 of these parts stolen and reported by State Farm customers – more than double the 20,600 in the previous 12-month period (July 2020 – June 2021).

The total amount paid to customers to help restore their vehicles after theft is more than $94.8 million, more than double the previous 12-month period of $42.1 million, according to State Farm. Minnesota had a total of 1,976 catalytic converter thefts during that time-frame, which gave the state its fifth-place ranking.

According to State Farm, catalytic converters can be easy to remove, particularly in tall vehicles, like SUVs. Once the part has been extracted, a loud and weird noise lets you know that you've become the latest victim of this crime.

To help reduce the risk of auto parts being stolen, consider these tips from State Farm:

  • Park inside a garage or in a well-lit area
  • If your vehicle must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice.
  • To protect yourself, speak with your insurance agent to make sure that your auto policy covers the theft of your entire vehicle or its parts through comprehensive coverage.

We encourage residents and local businesses to keep an eye out for this type of crime and report catalytic converter thefts to local law enforcement. Don’t let thieves get the upper hand.

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