Handyman furious as thieves rip off catalytic converters


Thieves stole '2 catalytic converters and cost me a lot of money'

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — For more than two decades, Reuben Quam has run his carpet and handyman business in Vancover. But between COVID, cancer and now catalytic converter thefts, times have been tough.

Surveillance video was able to capture the thieves hitting 3 of his fleet of work trucks, stealing 2 catalytic converters and causing serious damage to the other one left behind. Quam said the way things are now it feels impossible to catch these thieves.

“Just like these people stealing 2 catalytic converters and that put 2 vans down today, and that cost me a lot of money,” Quam said. “It’s too bad. Everybody out there, they’re struggling this time of year.”

Only 2 bolts are used to hold a catalytic converter in place on a vehicle, December 14, 2021 (KOIN)

With catalytic converter thefts rising rapidly, Quam and his daughter, Tammy Alayadhi, want scrap metal yards to limit the amount of catalytic converters they’ll accept from a single person.

“They have to take some kind of accountability because they’re the ones buying it,” Alayadhi said. “As long as they’re buying it there’s a demand for it.”

‘It gives us a bad name’

Josh Girod, who owns EH Metal Recycling in Vancouver, told KOIN 6 News this kind of theft is a headache for them, too.

“We’re not here for theft. That is not what we’re here for,” he said. “It gives us a bad name and that’s unfortunate. It is. All we’re trying to do is give people money for their material.”

As a security measure, Girod keeps detailed records on file forever.

Josh Girod, the owner of EH Metal Recycling in Vancouver, December 14, 2021 (KOIN)

“We take their name, their number and their address and we have their ID on file,” he said. “Then every time we do a transaction it takes pictures of what’s on the scale at the time.”

While he has helped police catch some criminals, Girod said officers don’t come by very often.

“If you’re not prosecuting people for doing it, then you’re never toing to get it to stop,” he said.

One surefire way to stop thieves, Girod said, is for carmakers to add VIN numbers to catalytic converters and require scrap metal shops to crosscheck the numbers.

“It’s the most valuable thing on the car, so why wouldn’t you have a VIN number on the most valuable thing on the car,” he said.

Auto body shops suggest parking your car in a garage or invest in a catylitic converter guard to ward off thieves.

New legislation is proposed to clamp down on this crime in Washington, forcing scrap metal shops to only purchase catalytic converters from businesses or car owners.

A number of catalytic converters at a scrap metal facility, December 14, 2021 (KOIN)

However, families become victims as they wait.

“Hopefully, the scrap metal companies in our communities will come forward and work with us and help us solve this problem,” Alayadhi said.

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