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Catalytic converter thefts, a growing national problem, hit several Bend neighborhoods and business

(Update: business also hit)

The undercarriage equipment contains rare and highly priced metals

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --People living in several Bend neighborhoods, including the Larkspur, Boyd Acres and Orchard districts, have posted on social media that they had their vehicle's catalytic converter stolen as recently as this past weekend. 

Stolen catalytic converters are becoming a growing problem in Bend, as it has been in recent years across the state and nation.

NewsChannel 21 heard Wednesday from a business hit by such a theft. Jordan Williams is talking with them for a report at 5.

Because of the valuable and rare metals used in catalytic converters, located on the undercarriage of vehicles, theives are taking advantage by removing the part and selling what is essentially worth thousands, for scrap.

By no means is this a new problem in places like California, Minnesota, Washington, or closer to home in Portland, but it’s becoming a worse problem on the High Desert, as recent reports on the Nextdoor neighborhood site attest.

Scott Doyle, facility operations manager at Schnitzer Steel in Bend said that in some cases, people have come in without documentation tracking the part back to them.

“From the reports that we get, when we do get them from law enforcement, there is a focus on Ford occasionally," Doyle said Tuesday.

Oregon lawmakers took on the issue last year, passing Senate Bill 803 , which took effect in January and "prohibits scrap metal business from purchasing or receiving catalytic converters, except from commercial seller or owner of vehicle from which catalytic converter was removed." However, it's too early to measure it's effectiveness.

It intends to make buyers honestly acquire catalytic converters and track information, putting thieves out of business.

Doyle said it has created more safeguards.

"The record-keeping requirements changed, which we certainly comply with, as well as the records that are required for the customer to prove ownership," Doyle said. "You’re going to need to have a copy of the registration of that vehicle in your name, and the registration of the vehicle has the VIN and the license plate number of that vehicle that the catalytic converter came off of.”

Now if you’re wondering what makes this part so valuable, it contains rare and precious metals like palladium that help prevent the buildup of poisonous fumes in cars.

According to State Farm, Oregon ranks sixth in the nation for auto parts theft. Last year, the insurance company paid $1.9 million for 1,311 Oregon catalytic converter theft claims. Nationally, the thefts soared 1,171% in a two-year period, to $62.6 million in claims.

Replacing a catalytic converter can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

“The range is dependent on the recovery of the precious metals inside them, and that is a very drastic range -- it’s huge," Doyle said.

However, he mentioned it could prove useful for people to protect their catalytic converters with casing or cables that are more challenging to cut through.

Author Profile Photo

Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.



  1. Require scrap yards to get photo IDs and recycle photos from anyone cashing these in. This type of story isn’t helpful to the community because most criminals are lazy and uncreative. They hear about this type of easy money and the problem gets worse.

    1. This is definitely newsworthy. It’s only easy money if there’s some place locally that’s buying them. Where is that? Shut them down and there will be no market for stolen cat converters.

      1. So your solution is shut down the business that’s trying to recycle. How would they know it’s stolen. I do know a big place in bend that’s requiring ID and a waiting period before funds are transferred to the required prepay card for precious metals like that. Went in for work to recycle a bunch of old wheels and had to wait 4 days. They are doing what they can. Maybe punish the law breakers instead? That thought ever cross your narrow mind

        1. This is no different than what pawn shops are required to do; if they accept stolen items then they can be arrested for possession of stolen property. Used cat converters come off a vehicle that’s registered and has a VIN number; it should not be hard to verify that it was lawfully obtained. Any “recycler” that doesn’t bother, that doesn’t call the police, and just accepts metals no-questions-asked deserves to be prosecuted.

        2. How would they know if it is stolen???
          If a tweaker or similar low life shows up at a scrap metal yard with a sack full of catalytic converters it isn’t hard to guess.

    2. The Senate bill is as worthless as any other liberal attempt to fix their problems.
      The thieves aren’t scrapping them, they’re extracting the precious metals themselves or are selling them to someone who does.

        1. Utter nonsense. The world demand for coal is higher than ever. The developing world wants electricity and they will get it, via coal

    1. You know all the solutions to everything. Why aren’t you cashing in on your amazing inventions, “living wage” jobs, “affordable housing” and business plans ? Show we deplorable slobs how you do it.

    2. FoSsIl FuEl PrObLeM. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
      I’m betting you drive a Tesla? You think fossil fuels are bad. The brainwashed has exposed themselves.

    3. Hey, TioZo, I challenge you to not use anything made from or transported by petroleum products or by-products. Or are you just a SA/SH thinking everyone else needs to get away from them?

    4. Were you outraged when Biden recently burned 36,000 gallons of fuel to fly to portland to talk about climate change? Then, burn another 36,000 gallons to go home? Or do you even see the left’s hypocrisy?

  2. I only wish I could live long enough for the sane world to finally realize that we have two groups of people in this world. The one that believes in law and order, coupled with harsh punishment for those who break the law.
    Then there’s the group who continually breaks the law, coupled with the bleeding hearts who believe that they can be rehabilitated or deserve to be.
    There are simply too many people through no fault of their own that need and deserve sympathy/help in life.
    Once we realize that the garbage humans are just that, garbage, and we permanently separate them from the rest of us, the world will be a much better place.
    Yes I’m advocating for Wild West justice and an eye for eye (or catalytic converter)
    Our current system is clearly failing everyone but the criminals.

    1. And who, pray tell, is the wise person/people to decide who “deserves” help and who is “garbage”? What are the criteria that most folks would agree on? Isn’t that what the court system is about?
      Especially when more people don’t trust government, media, anyone not on “their side.”
      We progressed from the “Wild West” for many reasons, tradeoffs or not.
      Just some thoughts…

        1. As plain as the nose on your face; vote demonrat and show your support for criminals, vote conservative and show your support for the rule of law.

      1. Pretty simple Barney, the tweakers, heroin users, cocaine users, weed users, alcohol users,thieves,they don’t care about anyone but themselves while high that you can bank on. And I’m betting most of these people on this site have NEVER been addicted to the drugs our government LETS pour into our country eh? And not one of them will stop using any of those substances UNTIL they’re ready on their own. That’s a fact. Contrary to what the “funded” institutions say.

        1. What? GOP4life spelled every word correctly. They used the wrong word. There instead of They’re. I’ve seen you do the same thing in the past. So there.

    1. It’s the “get caught” part that’s not so easy. Law-and-Order types also tend to be those that are most opposed to paying taxes, which pay for things like law enforcement.

      1. Don’t mind paying taxes. But I don’t like funding the lazy alcoholic drug addicts that steal from us all that do pay taxes.
        Why should we fund or help them in ANY way?

      2. We law and order types are opposed to high taxes to pay for liberal pork. It’s the tax and waste we are apposed to. Higher taxes with lower representation. If they can’t raise taxes they just print more money. Why should I pay to subsidize someone else’s life style.

  3. Simple enough, require a valid ID with an address and the check is in the mail, no cash handouts, the same as they do for non-ferrous metals. I wonder if having a Neighborhood watch doing foot patrols at night would help any? I have 200 pounds of “night watch” that gets up and patrols at random times, I do hear them keeping the “critters” posted they have been seen. The old joke of “You have to be faster than 4.5 seconds to cross the yard, that’s what the chowhound can do it in and you look like a snack.” There used to be sign’s on the net that said something like “If you are caught here at night, the cops will find you here in the morning.”

  4. Painted mine with a bunch of coats of orange high heat paint and etched the last 4 digits of the VIN on it awhile back. No issues.

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