▶️ Precious materials: Bend Police see uptick in catalytic converter thefts

By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Cameron Ruddell, the co-owner of Good Guys Muffler Service in Bend, has been bombarded with calls recently about catalytic converters. 

“We’ve actually replaced a bunch of them that have been stolen,” Ruddell said.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission auto part that reduces toxic gas from cars.

From February 24 to April 6, Bend Police have taken seven reports of catalytic converter thefts.

“And last year we didn’t have any reports on the catalytic converters,” Lt. Juli McConkey with Bend Police said. “it is definitely an uptick in the thefts of them.”

There’s been an uptick nationally as well.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau Operations, Intelligence and Analytics study of reported thefts, there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, 282 average monthly thefts in 2019, and 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020.

Why steal an auto part that reduces toxic gases?

“They are full of precious materials,” added Ruddell. “Palladium and the cost of scrap right now is really high.”

Along with its value, these parts are also targeted for other reasons.

“It’s not difficult to steal them at all,” said Ruddell. “It takes less than a minute if you have a battery-powered sawzall. You are under the car, cut it out and it is gone.”

Ruddell says the only thing easier than stealing them might be selling them.

“A scrap buyer, a lot of them will buy catalytic converters and you get easy money right there,” he added. “There is no process for the person that steals it. It is basically steal it, take it and they hand you cash.”

Thieves are getting up to $500 for the part at scrap yards, but it’ll cost you more than $1000 to get it fixed if you’re a theft victim.

“Toyota Prius is the worst,” Ruddell said. “It is easy to steal and the amount of money in the catalytic converter is real high.

All seven stolen converter reports to Bend Police have been from Prius owners.

“Any time things are reported to the steel companies here, they do collect information and give it to the police department,” Lt. McConkey said. “We do use a lot of other investigative tools as well to find out who has been stealing some things and then put the pieces together.”

So how do you stop it from happening to you? 

Park your car in the garage if you can or under a light. 

Insurance companies also say to put your vin number on it or buy a protective guard.

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