The soaring number of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles has become an increasing matter of concern in Oregon, and throughout the country. In 2021, the Oregon legislature passed a law intended to slow the explosive growth of the crime, by making it harder to sell the parts from the converters, devices which are installed to reduce toxic pollutants.
The law went into effect in January, but metro area vehicle owners still take to social media on a daily basis to report catalytic converter thefts. In the latest attempt to try to address the problem, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced that they have introduced legislation to help law enforcement crack down on catalytic converter thefts.
The “Preventing Auto Recycling Theft Act” would, in part, require new vehicles to have a Vehicle Identification number (VIN) stamped onto the converter, which would help law enforcement officers identify stolen parts and trace them to vehicles from which converters are stolen.
The act also would establish catalytic converter thefts as a criminal offense.
As The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in April, car part thefts in Portland jumped 270% in the past five years. Last year’s reported total of thefts was 4,908, and police bureau data reflect that stolen catalytic converters drove the increase.
As The Oregonian/OregonLive reported, “Police in Portland and elsewhere have largely conceded the territory to the thieves, saying they don’t have enough officers to patrol for the crime or don’t respond because it isn’t typically a felony. Amid a record wave of homicides and shootings and historically high officer vacancies, no Portland police detectives are assigned to focus on car and car part thefts.”