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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.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts
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Bola Gbadebo

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

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