Cops Bust Crime Ring Suspected of Stealing $22M in Catalytic Converters

They’re estimated to have stolen 44,000 in total, and so far, police have recovered 3,000 of them.

byVictoria Scott|
Cops Bust Crime Ring Suspected of Stealing $22M in Catalytic Converters
Screenshot via KGW8 News/YouTube

Catalytic converter theft is running rampant in metro areas across the United States because the raw materials used to manufacture them are so expensive. This bust, however, is on another level entirely, with police in Oregon arresting 14 people and seizing 3,000 catalytic converters across eight different houses.

As KGW8 reports, the bust began in late 2021 when Beaverton Police suspected a 32-year-old man of participating in a catalytic converter theft ring. In March this year, he was pulled over while in a vehicle containing over a hundred catalytic converters valued north of $80,000; after that, the investigation broadened and focused on the alleged leader, who lived in nearby Lake Oswego.

During the course of the police raid, cops found 3,000 catalytic converters and claimed that the ring had stolen 44,000 of them since January 2021, totaling over $22,000,000 worth. Local authorities surmise the raid and arrests have made a "significant dent in the Portland-metro area catalytic converter thefts," although they noted that thefts stretched across several West Coast states and that the stolen goods were largely headed to the East Coast. The indicted individuals are charged with a variety of felonies including racketeering and money laundering; the alleged leader was charged with 72 separate offenses, to which he has pled not guilty.

Police also noted that they seized jewelry, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, and a "high-end vehicle," although that specific car is unclear. A Google streetview of an involved property only showed a modified Subaru in the driveway. The catalytic converters themselves do not bear serial numbers, which means they cannot be returned to owners, although police noted many of them appeared to come from "eco-friendly" vehicles that largely contain more of the precious metals that make catalytic converters so valuable.

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