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The St. Paul City Council approved an ordinance change Wednesday that will make it a misdemeanor to possess a catalytic converter that is not attached to a motor vehicle.

Officials say the change — which requires anyone who has a detached catalytic converter to provide a receipt or proof of purchase — will make it easier for St. Paul police to prove whether a catalytic converter was stolen.

Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise in the Twin Cities and across the country during the past two years. In 2021, nearly 2,000 catalytic converters were stolen in St. Paul — more than five a day.

Council Member Chris Tolbert, whose ward includes Highland Park and most of Macalester-Groveland, said many of his constituents have had their catalytic converters stolen multiple times.

"That's a devastating amount of money for people to get replaced," he said.

Other city efforts to crack down on these thefts — including St. Paul police marking catalytic converters to make them less appealing to thieves — haven't made much of a dent.

Tolbert and Council President Amy Brendmoen called on the state to take action on the sale of catalytic converters and the sale of the valuable metals they contain.

"We will continue to work on this, and we will continue to enforce and push back," Brendmoen said. "But we need help from the state to look at this on a more global level and help us stop the market demand for these items."

Staff reporter Katie Galioto contributed to this report.