Auto and metal thieves will find it harder to sell their loot for scrap metal, thanks to a new law aimed at stamping out such thefts.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday signed the Scrap Metal and Auto Theft Prevention Act of 2013, which tightens industry regulations in several ways, including requiring titles for older vehicles sold to salvage yards.

Law enforcers, the Ramsey County attorney's office and the scrap-metal industry had worked together for several years to develop the legislation. It's aimed at those stealing copper tubing, farm irrigators and other scrap metal, as well as vehicles.

"Not only will it make it more difficult for thieves to trade in stolen scrap metal and cars, but now law enforcement, prosecutors and industry professionals have the tools to prevent such crimes and hold bad actors accountable," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.

The new law will require scrap metal dealers and operators to begin recording information into the Automated Property System (APS) that's now used to record pawnshop transactions. That change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015, and enable law enforcers to better identify vehicle and scrap-metal thieves.

Two classes of vehicles will be considered exceptions and not need titles. One is for vehicles that are at least 10 years old but have not been registered for more than seven years; the other category includes vehicles that are 20 years or older and inoperable.

"This act is a tremendous asset in our efforts to prevent auto thefts," said Jim Franklin, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association. "Too often, our officers catch up to the auto thief after the vehicle has been disposed of, and with it any hope of recovery for the victim."

Among those happy to see the new law is Kathy Raine of St. Paul, whose 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier was stolen and crushed within hours at a nearby salvage yard.

"I'm thrilled that the problem of auto theft is being addressed by the state," she said.

Joy Powell • 612-673-7750