Anyone who has ever had their catalytic converter stolen knows the frustration — and the pain in the wallet.Now they could be in for more after the Alberta Court of Justice has found the UCP government’s law targeting scrap metal thieves to be unconstitutional.In a November 8 decision, Justice Heather Lamoureaux ruled the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Information Act intruded on federal authority over criminal law.“The legislation does not truly regulate trade and does not address property and civil rights or administration of justice in a public manner,” Lamoureaux said in the ruling. “The regulations, promulgated pursuant to the statute, falls solely within the federal criminal law power.”.Under the four-year-old law, scrap metal recyclers were required to record sellers’ information for use by police in investigating a spate of catalytic converter thefts, as well as a spate of materials such as copper from oil and gas sites.The challenge was filed by a Calgary-scrap dealer who had been charged in 2021 with a dozen counts of failing to provide detailed seller information to police within 24 hours of purchasing restricted metal items. He argued the requirement breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Alberta, meanwhile had argued the law falls under its authority to regulate property and civil rights — similar to registration requirements for pawn shops.But Justice Lamoreaux said the requirement to provide the information to police was criminal in nature and placed it under the auspices of the Criminal Code.In 2022, more than 3,500 catalytic converters thefts were reported in Edmonton alone, a 1,400% jump from 2018 when there were just 213 similar incidents, according to police, costing residents nearly $20 million in repairs and replacements. That’s because the pollution control devices contain valuable platinum as a catalyst..“The legislation does not truly regulate trade and does not address property and civil rights or administration of justice in a public manner,”Justice Heather Lamoreaux.According to local automotive shops in Calgary, it takes less than a minute for thieves to scramble under the vehicles and remove the units with a hand grinder. Repairs and replacements to sensitive electronics systems can cost thousands of dollars compared to the $150 to $200 black market value of the converters themselves.According to the Driving.ca website the cost to replace the converter and oxygen sensors on a new Ram truck with a 5.7L V8 can run $10,000 or more.Similar trends have been reported across the country due to a lack of traceability and serial numbers, according to Allstate Insurance.Earlier this year the EPS recommended drivers etch their critical exhaust systems with vehicle identification numbers (VINs) to deter would-be bandits.