Under a new bill approved by the Minnesota Senate Thursday, scrap dealers would not be allowed to buy catalytic converters unless they have an identification tag that allows them to be traced. (Getty Images, editorial)

State Senator Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls argued this week the Senate’s new bill to crack down on catalytic converter thefts won’t be effective. Dahms said, “This bill is not going to fix the problem. This is one of those feel-good bills, if you folks that are voting for this could go back your districts and say how much you’ve done when you’ve done nothing.”

Catalytic converters in cars contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium. The Minnesota Senate voted on Thursday for measures that, in theory, would make it more difficult for thieves to sell stolen catalytic converters for scrap.

With the new bill approved by the Senate on Thursday, scrap metal dealers would not be allowed to purchase a catalytic converter that is not attached to a vehicle unless it has markings that could be used to trace its original purchase.

The bill would prohibit scrap metal dealers from purchasing a converter that is not attached to a vehicle unless it bears identifying markings that can be used to trace it, such as the VIN number. Dealers would have to enter the information into an electronic database to help law enforcement trace the parts.

However, Minnesota State Republican senators said the bill would do nothing to deter large-scale car thieves who smuggle stolen catalytic converters out of state, and would unfairly burden small scale scrap dealers in Minnesota.

The Minnesota State Department of Commerce says that Minnesota currently ranks third in the nation for catalytic converter thefts, behind California and Texas.