Woman recounts run in with catalytic converter thief

A woman recounts an encounter with the man se believes stole her catalytic converter.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 8:04 PM PDT
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VANCOUVER Wash. (KPTV) - Catalytic converter thefts are still affecting many, especially in Oregon and Washington. Both states consistently rank high on the lists of the states with the most car part thefts. Oregon and Washington recently passed laws looking to cut down on the thefts, but speaking with local insurance agents, claims are still up.

Kate Tijerina is one of the latest victims. She was working on Mother’s Day in Vancouver when one of her catalytic converters was stolen.

“I believe it caught the guy in the act " said Tijerina. “I was at a clients doing an install. I came out, I was getting wrapped up and came to put stuff in my car, and saw a man in a newer white crossover. I just assumed he was an employee and I disregarded it. I went back inside and ten minutes later, came back out and started my car and it sounded like a monster truck.”

She took her car to the shop and they confirmed someone had taken one of her three catalytic converters. When she reached out to authorities, she said she was far from alone in dealing with the issue.

“I called the police and they told me I was the 12th call that day,” said Tijerina. “So it’s pretty prevalent. Just in the past few days after this happened I have been talking to people who said they had theirs stolen two months ago and someone tried to get it a second time, gas station attendants who have U-Haul’s that are losing all of their catalytic converters in one night. It just seems like it’s everyone’s story right now.”

For now, Tijerina says she will have to rent or borrow a car, as her car’s catalytic converter is on back order.

“I still have to go to my appointments,” said Tijerina. “I still have do my job.”

Darrel Hanson, owner of Darrel’s Economy Mufflers in SE Portland, says his shop sees between 5-10 cars a day with catalytic converter thefts. He says the majority of people stealing catalytic converters know what they’re doing and are fast at it.

“They can do it from a minute to three minutes,” Hanson said. “They can have a converter off that quick because they are professionals. I’m pretty sure, in fact I would bet on it, they put them all on a U-Haul van, take them out of state, and sell them to a regular refinery. They probably have a Core Buyer’s license and say they bought them in Oregon, Idaho, then go around and sell them. They don’t question it and they take them.”

Hanson recommends people purchase a metal cover for their converters.

“I think there are four brands that are making them,” said Hanson. “But I have a shop on Powell, a welder, he will custom build for trucks and stuff like that. These people can get a catalytic converter off a Prius in 4- minutes. You put that retainer, a cover on there and it will take 20 minutes just to take that off to get to the converter. You’re not going to stop a thief. If they want to steal they are going to steal it, but it’s a really good deterrent. It’s going to slow them down and some will say they don’t have the time to deal with it.”