PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Among a rise in car and catalytic converter thefts in Portland, some offenders often go back on the street without much jail time.
One man facing charges in Multnomah County wasn’t held in jail and was arrested six times while awaiting trial.
In one case from December 2020, Joshua Ephrem faced 20 charges related to catalytic converter thefts, but he wasn’t held in jail. According to court documents, Ephrem was caught cutting the catalytic converter off someone’s Honda Element outside their home.
Then the next day, documents said he stole someone’s catalytic converter while their car was parked in the economy lot at the airport.
Ephrem is also tied by court documents to three other catalytic converter thefts at the airport and four catalytic converter thefts that happened in the parking garage at Providence Hospital on Northeast Glisan Street.
Prosecutors said these cases are frustrating for their office and for law enforcement. Ephrem is just one example of several repeat offenders in Multnomah County. Prosecutors said it would be helpful if people were held in custody until their court date, but in non-violent cases people are often released before that happens.
“Let’s say we were able to charge them because we were able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt and we charged them,” said Kevin Demer, Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney. “And they pick up another case, and another case, and another case — I mean it does seem like a small percentage of people are committing a majority of the stolen car cases.”
While waiting for officers to show up for one of the catalytic converter thefts at Providence, documents said Ephrem told security, “This is Multnomah County — I’ll be out and back here in no time.”
Ephrem wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t held in jail on that case, and while awaiting trial, he was arrested six more times.
He’s currently being held in the Clackamas County Jail.