KROC-AM logo
Get our free mobile app

As catalytic converter thefts going to happen in Southeastern Minnesota, many auto shops have offered the paint your catalytic converter with a special paint to deter theft. But...does it work?

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Does Painting Your Catalytic Converter Deter Theft?

Olmsted County Sheriff Torgerson was on Rochester Today Monday (May 10, 2021) and I asked him. He said,

"If people want to take it to your local shop and say, 'Hey, put my name on the catalytic converter' that'll help."

Click play to hear the conversation...scroll down to read the automatically generated transcript.

However, it only helps if they catch the thieves red handed while still in Minnesota. Once it crosses state lines and ends up at its designation, they don't last long in the solid state.

"...they're taking them out of state, clear across country and they're getting broken down in some kind of warehousing process down there (and they take out and melt down)...the rhodium...that can be used in other places."

What Is Rhodium? an extraordinarily rare, silvery-white, hard, corrosion-resistant, and chemically inert transition metal. Not just used in catalytic converters, it's also used as filters in mammography systems for the characteristic X-rays it produces. (WIKI)

So What Do I Do?

The long and the short of it is...yes, do get your catalytic converter painted or engraved. If they can catch 'em red handed, before the melting process, it could help a lot.

Transcript: Olmsted County Sheriff On Catalytic Converter Thefts

Andy Brownell (00:00): You're listening to Rochester Today on Rochester's Newstalk 1340 KROC AM and 96 nine FM. Today we're talking with Kevin Torgeson Sheriff of Olmsted County. Welcome back. The sheriff...the ongoing theft of these catalytic converters out of, vehicles. And there was news of an arrest down by Lime Springs over the weekend. And it happened to be a young man from Rochester. Does this perhaps represent a break?

Sheriff Torgerson (00:25): Well, I think it does to some degree whether or not this guy is going to talk about anybody else that he's working with. But, um, like I said, when he brought it up off air, the name that I saw was not one of the names that I know our people are, trying to determine if that's what these people are doing. So there's obviously, several folks out there that are doing these things and, um, there's gotten to be a for cash kind of business in this thing, so to speak.

Tow truck towing a broken down car on the street.

And of course it's non taxable, it's all cash on demand kind of thing. And, these people are either feeding...In most cases, they're feeding some kind of a drug habit or meth habit, or some other kind of addiction. So, um, you know, it's not a good thing. And of course, you know, we saw the buses, the school bus folks got a bunch of them taken the other day. And, um, they're doing this stuff so quickly and, you know, he's just got to find a way to get people to talk and be willing to come forward and say what we need to hear and what we need to face. Then we can charge these people with stuff.

James Rabe (01:39): It seems like more and more businesses are offering a opportunity to spray paint your catalytic converter a certain color. Um, how, how do you see that as crime prevention?

Sheriff Torgerson (01:48): Well, it, it's not going to hurt, but it's not something that we, I mean, that's fine. If people want to take it to their local shop and say, Hey, put my name on the, on my catalytic converter that'll help.

Um, but one of the problems is that when they take these things across state lines, you know, we're not being told, , you know, like you get to, this is what needs to be done a law needs to be passed. And of course, that stuff takes time, um, where anybody that's in possession of Cadillac converters in their fresh cut form, um, is required to tell us, , tell a lot of person where they got it from. Um, and they keep records of it just like you do when you go to a pawn shop or something, they've got to keep records of everything.

Car mechanic working in auto repair service
This person does not seem to know where the CC is. (Mikola249)

Sheriff Torgerson (02:38): And we know to some degree where these things are going, but these businesses are in on collecting these, whether they're junk yards or some other group, right now they're not required to cooperate with law enforcement.

And that's where it gets lost. So that's where we're frustrated to the point that, yeah, you know, I'd love to have all kinds of, you know, people crawl under the car and mark their converter if they can or have their shop to it. But, you know, if we don't catch these people red, hot red handed, then it gets to these distribution points, and they're not required to tell us...we're stuck

James Rabe (03:21): And they're not getting, they're not getting used as catalytic converters. If I understand correctly,

Sheriff Torgerson (03:25): No, they're, they're taking them. , from what we understand, they're taking them out of state, clear across country and getting broken down in some kind of warehousing process down there. And they're, I forget the name of it, , rhodium. Yeah. Um, some kind of real precious metal. It's a metal that's inside there that can be used in other places.

And there's some people on the black market that are paying huge money for this right now. And so these people like this individual are used to getting a certain amount of money and, you know, they got to steal a whole bunch to get what they need. They need to feed whatever habit they have or whatever it is that they're trying to get their money for. Um, and then these other intermediate traffickers are, are getting a big chunk of money.

Young Asian girl on school bus
They've even been stealing school bus CC's!
(Don Mason)

Sheriff Torgerson (04:19): And then the, the guys that are melting them down are even getting more. And so it's, it's become a private industry of sorts. And unfortunately all kinds of people are being victimized. And, you know, it's same thing with other stuff where you get something stolen right out from under your nose and your driveway or parking lot at your school, or, you know, wherever you are. Um, and, and now your, you know, your, your safety, your sense of security is, is certainly, , affected by that. And people don't care about that. All they care about is the cash money. They can get quick and easy money and, and the way they go,

Andy Brownell (05:02): Sheriff Kevin Torgersen Rochester to take Newstalk 1340 Carol cam and 96, nine FM.

Click play to hear the entire Monday Rochester Today Podcast with Sheriff Torgerson -

Love Cars...Love the 50's? The best car show in Minnesota and the USA is happening on Father's Day Weekend, click to attend in St Paul!
Love Cars...Love the 50's? The best car show in Minnesota and the USA is happening on Father's Day Weekend, click to attend in St Paul!

As always, if you have a comment, complaint, or concern about something I wrote here, please let me know:

Listen to James Rabe and Jessica Williams Weekday from 6 - 10 AM on Y-105 FM

Terrifying Wisconsin Home Also Comes with Amazing Lake Views

This home that was recently for sale in Racine, Wisconsin has an insane backyard. It just a cliff drop-off! There are beautiful views of Lake Michigan but the backyard is a little scary.

More From KROC-AM