PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Three people are facing charges after allegedly trying to steal a catalytic converter from a Prius after the car’s owner pulled a gun on the suspects, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were sent to the 10000 block of NE Skidmore Street in Maywood Park just before 12:30 a.m. Monday on a report of a suspicious person with a weapon. When they arrived, deputies learned the person armed with a gun had confronted three people attempting to steal the catalytic converter from his Prius. 

Several nearby Portland Police officers responded to assist, according to MCSO.

The three suspects were arrested and taken into custody, according to police. All face attempted theft charges as well as drug charges.

Monday morning’s incident mirrors a growing trend in the region. Auto shops and law enforcement said they have been seeing a huge number of catalytic converter thefts. In fact, they’ve become so rampant, the Oregon Legislature is working on a bill to help curb the problem.

The part, which on average sells for $500, is relatively easy to steal because it only takes a couple of minutes, according to Senator Chris Gorsek, chief sponsor of Senate Bill 803 — a measure that seeks to prohibit scrap metal business from purchasing or receiving catalytic converters, except from commercial seller.

“A lot of this is designed to slow down or even stop the local folks who are kind of quickly stealing the converter and then rushing off to a salvage yard, junk yard and then selling them off,” Gorsek said.

The law would also require scrap metal business to record certain information related to catalytic converter purchased or received by scrap metal business. Peter Van Houton, representing the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, told us his organization was backing efforts for the passage of Senate Bill 803,

“ISRI members in Oregon support the goals of SB 803 in helping law enforcement reduce the illicit trade in stolen catalytic converters while maintaining a legal pathway for the metals within to be reclaimed and returned to the manufacturing supply chain” Van Houton told KOIN 6 Tuesday.

As Darrel Hanson of Darrel’s Economy Mufflers showed KOIN 6 News, it only takes a few minutes to remove a catalytic converter from a car. And he sees a lot of people come in without them

“I’m doing probably anywhere from 3 to 5 a day, 6 days a week,” Hanson said.

The shop is so busy replacing catalytic converters they’re on back order at some places.

“When they first hit us I had to buy Prius converters on the East Coast because all the West Coast was sold out.”

PPB told us there have been 94 reported incidents though March 11 in which a converter was stolen. Some reports are still being processed, police said.