Wisconsin lawmakers looking to get tougher on catalytic converter thieves

A box of stolen catalytic converters.

MADISON — Some Wisconsin legislators are looking to treat catalytic converters more like stereos and gold watches.

State Rep. Clint Moses, R-Menomonie, has a plan to track potentially stolen catalytic converters, Assembly Bill 415.

Moses said his proposal would “create an ID requirement, proof of ownership, and a paper trail for scrap metal dealers.”

Currently, Wisconsin’s law for stolen auto parts doesn’t specify catalytic converters, which makes them more attractive to thieves.

Catalytic converters are already plenty attractive to thieves because of the precious metals inside.

“Catalytic converters contain small amounts of precious metals, including platinum, palladium, and rhodium,” Moses said.

Those metals are so valuable, Moses says, thieves may take the whole car, but only for the purpose of stealing the catalytic converter.

“In Menomonie, where I’m from, they’ve gone from climbing under the vehicle, to driving vehicles out to the middle of nowhere and cutting the catalytic converter off and leaving the vehicle there,” Moses said. “This shows how valuable these catalytic converters are, because they are taking the vehicle but then just leaving it behind.”

Moses says Minnesota recently passed a similar catalytic converter law. “When Minnesota implemented their law, they saw an overnight and dramatic drop in the number of these thefts,” Moses said. “But interestingly enough, police departments in my area of the state started seeing people coming across from Minnesota.”

Moses’ plan has already passed committees in both the state Senate and state Assembly, it’s waiting for a vote.

Moses says there is plenty of Democratic support for the idea, and hopes the governor will sign it into law.