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Oregon bill that cracks down on catalytic converter thefts now in effect

Catalytic converter thefts
Catalytic converter thefts(KPTV)
Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 1:53 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - A new bipartisan state law in Oregon aimed at preventing catalytic converter thefts went into effect statewide on Jan. 1, 2022.

Senate Bill 803, which was approved during the 2021 legislative session, limits the sales of catalytic converters to commercial vendors, creating a barrier for people who are selling them on the black market.

The bill also requires scrap metal businesses to retain the make, model year, vehicle identification number, and license number associated with catalytic converters they buy in order to redeem their value. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said that will stop “unscrupulous commercial vendors willing to buy stolen catalytic converters” from making any profit from them.

“Beer kegs are made up of valuable metal, yet we don’t have an epidemic of beer keg theft. That’s because there are market protections in place that make it nearly impossible to profit from selling them because there are no buyers,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Demer said. “SB 803 works the same way. Most catalytic converters ultimately end up in the chain-of-commerce at large recycling companies. These companies absolutely do not want to purchase stolen catalytic converters and with this law, only legitimately acquired catalytic converters will have the proper paperwork and be purchasable. Just like how these recycling companies do not purchase beer kegs without proper paperwork, they will not purchase catalytic converters without proper paperwork.”

Over the past few years, catalytic converter thefts in the Portland metro area and across the state of Oregon have increase dramatically. FOX 12 has reported on numerous catalytic converter thefts, even some that were caught on camera in broad daylight.

People have been prosecuted for the crime but Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said it’s not enough.

“We can’t rely only on arrest and prosecution to solve this problem. SB 803 strikes at the heart of catalytic converter theft by taking away the market,” Schmidt said. “This will help us get upstream of this scourge and allow us to focus our limited resources more effectively.”

A similar bill will be considered during the 2022 legislative session in Washington. Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, filed Senate Bill 5495, which would prohibit scrap dealers from purchasing catalytic converters except from commercial enterprises and vehicle owners.