Police Look To Spray Paint To Curb Catalytic Converter Thefts

Since the beginning of the year, 600 catalytic converters have been stolen from St. Paul residents, or at a rate of six per day, Reg Chapman reports (2:12). WCCO 4 News At 6 - April 9, 2021

Video Transcript

- The St. Paul Police Department is offering an auto care clinic to help drivers protect a frequently stolen item-- those catalytic converters. Since the beginning of the year, 600 catalytic converters have been stolen from St. Paul residents. That's six a day. WCCO's Reg Chapman has more on what police hope will help deter these thefts.

DAVE PETERSON: There are people waiting over a week to get in here-- two weeks.

REG CHAPMAN: Dave Peterson is working hard to keep up with demand. Since the beginning of this year, the biggest part of his business has been replacing stolen catalytic converters.

DAVE PETERSON: 200 to 300 or more.

REG CHAPMAN: His crews are replacing at least 15 catalytic converters a day. Peterson believes because it is so lucrative to sell those stolen converters, they are being taken at an alarming rate.

DAVE PETERSON: [? Yes, ?] it's the precious metal, rhodium, palladium, platinum. And now it's the highest it's ever been. Right now, it's higher in gold right now per ounce.

KURT HALLSTROM: It's a serious significant problem, and we want to try to do something.

REG CHAPMAN: St. Paul PD has a plan they hope will help deter thieves.

KURT HALLSTROM: We're going to try to spray paint a little template on the catalytic converter that says SPD on it. We're going to try if we can get underneath the vehicle to engrave the license plate number of the vehicle that the catalytic converter is on.

REG CHAPMAN: Commander Kurt Hallstrom uses a high-temperature spray paint good for up to 2,000 degrees. He hopes the marked catalytic converters will keep people from taking them and others from purchasing them.

KURT HALLSTROM: So we're hoping that the scrapyards and the people that are buying them will see these markings and, you know, grindings on the catalytic converter and say, I'm not going to buy that one, or I'm not going to give you premium dollar for that.

REG CHAPMAN: Six a day are reported stolen. But police believe that does not represent the number of catalytic converter thefts that are never reported. Peterson says he supports St. Paul PD's efforts. And there's also plenty of the ones he installs orange. Plus--

DAVE PETERSON: When I install are made with ceramic inside, they're worth-- if they do try to cut them and get them, they're worth about $8 to $18.

REG CHAPMAN: Reg Chapman, WCCO 4 News.

- The auto care clinic tomorrow at Allianz Stadium is full. St. Paul Police are planning future clinics to help meet the demand.