Catalytic Converters Thieves Being Targeted by Law Enforcement

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In 2021, in response to a surge in criminal activity involving catalytic converters, state lawmakers modified laws prohibiting the illicit sale or transport of scrap metals. The following year, investigators put these changes to use.

Only one person was charged under these laws in 2021, according to our findings. It involved the removal of wiring and other scrap metal from an unfinished Forest Grove residential development. The year 2022 was, however, a different scenario. Prosecutors filed 65 allegations in a dozen or so cases.

Moreover, it appears that at least some of these prosecutions have had an impact. In 2023, a single charge was filed on January 2, nearly six months ago. This is one of several indicators that the catalytic converter theft spree is on the decline.

This year, 80% fewer catalytic converters have been stolen, according to the Gresham police. In Portland, it is more difficult to determine because the police will not. Due to the high frequency of requests for public records, a Portland Police Bureau spokesperson told last year that the bureau no longer has this information “on demand.”

Nonetheless, there is ample evidence that the crime rate in Portland has decreased. β€œWe still get a few,” states Jerry Clemmer, a mechanic at Darrel’s Economy Mufflers on Southeast 82nd Avenue, β€œbut not nearly as much as we were.”

After skyrocketing during the pandemic, prices for the precious metals contained in emission-reduction devices have returned to Earth. So, now that the cat burglary epidemic has subsided, who was arrested?

Catalytic Converter Thieves Targeted by Police
Catalytic Converter Thieves Targeted by Police

The Lake Oswego District

In August, Beaverton police dismantled a $22 million catalytic converter trafficking organization operating out of a lakeside residence. Brennan Doyle, 33, a former Uber driver, is alleged to have teamed up with a few friends to purchase catalytic converters in bulk from street dealers and ship them cross-country to New Jersey, where a separate criminal ring extracted the devices’ precious metals and sold them to a local refinery.

In addition to much more severe charges such as racketeering and money laundering, Doyle has been charged with 19 counts of the unlawful purchase of “metal property,” a misdemeanor. In April, his counsel withdrew from the case, and Doyle is currently awaiting the assignment of a public defender. In Washington County, five of Doyle’s associates face scrap metal offenses.

The Bend Kingpin

Doyle was not, however, the Oregonian who was charged the most for waste metal last year. This distinction belongs to 25-year-old Cedrus King, who was arrested in Bend late in 2022 (he maintained a residence in Medford) and charged with $7 million worth of catalytic converter trafficking.

According to Medford police, he was a “key player” who purchased stolen auto parts and, along with Doyle, transported them out of state. He is now charged with 22 counts of waste metal theft and racketeering. Due to King’s lack of remorse for his alleged offenses, prosecutors have requested a “enhanced” sentence. His court date in Jackson County is set for September. His counsel declined to comment on his behalf.

Street-level Randos

The remaining cases appeared to involve street-level thieves who were captured red-handed with catalytic converters. The majority were located in Multnomah County. Usually, but not always, scrap metal charges were attached to more significant felonies, such as theft in the first degree or drug trafficking.

Police responded to a report of two men slumped over in an idling vehicle parked at a McDonald’s on Northeast Halsey Street in the Gateway District in July of last year. One had a meth pipe on the dashboard in front of him and a catalytic converter that had been cut in half between his thighs.

Do you know that Central Oregon’s nonfarm employment continues to grow, but at a slower rate than average for this time of year in all three counties, according to the Oregon Department of Employment on Wednesday (21 June):

The car contained two additional catalytic converters and a baggie containing blue fentanyl tablets. The driver, who had fallen asleep with his foot on the brake while the engine was still running, stated that one of the catalytic converters was stolen from the vehicle he was driving, which he claimed his girlfriend had purchased from a deceased man.

The vehicle was neither registered to his girlfriend nor to a male. Both he and the passenger were charged with felony narcotic delivery and misdemeanor unlawful transport of metal property.

One of the men, Pavel Kuzik, is presently imprisoned after pleading guilty to a December hit-and-run in Washington County. The other defendant, Yuriy Zvozdetskiy, neglected to appear in court in March. He has not yet been assigned a lawyer. His arrest warrant is now active.

Neon-Martin
Neon Martin

Neon Martin is a talented content writer with a passion for crafting engaging, informative articles on a wide range of topics. With a keen eye for detail and a love of language, Neon has honed their writing skills over several years of experience in the field.Neon's work can be found on Focushillsboro.com, where they contribute insightful articles that explore the many facets of life in Hillsboro and the surrounding areas. Whether delving into local events, highlighting community leaders, or sharing tips on living a healthy and fulfilling life, Neon's writing always captivates and informs.

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