PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A chain of local oil change shops is partnering with local law enforcement to help protect vehicles from catalytic converter theft, free of charge.
More than 45 Jiffy Lube locations in Vancouver, Portland and Salem are offering to paint catalytic converters with high-temperature paint and engrave the catalytic converter with the car’s VIN number. No appointment is necessary and it only takes about five to 10 minutes.
Law enforcement said the markings will do two things: It may deter a thief from stealing it in the first place and will help police track criminal enterprises if they do take it.
“There’s been a lot of efforts going into this and this serves further as a deterrent and to help us on the back end if we are able to find catalytic converters that are marked this way and have the numbers etched into them, it can help us help close the loop to some of those cases,” said Chris Skidmore with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Catalytic converter theft is a problem that’s been on the rise in the last few years. While police have caught more than a dozen converter thieves, and more laws have been passed in Washington and Oregon to deter this kind of crime, which police believe has helped, they say there’s still more that we can all do to try and prevent this crime from continuing.
“A lot of our employees, even some of our ownership group, has had this unfortunately happen to them,” said Justin Soha, a Jiffy Lube Franchisee. “If we can help deter these thefts and help with prosecution, we’re absolutely going to do our best.”
Over the summer, multiple police agencies worked together to bust a catalytic converter trafficking ring. More than a dozen criminals based in Lake Oswego were accused of raking in $22 million.
Police say thieves would steal them here, then ship them off to the east coast. Since that investigation, law enforcement reports a significant drop in catalytic converter thefts, yet the crime carries on.
“Washington County Sheriff’s Office is committed to investigating catalytic converter thefts. Our goal is to arrest those involved with the thefts and identify those who knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and work with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute those offenders,” said Cap. Timothy Tannenbaum with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. “We support the efforts of Jiffy Lube to engage in proactive efforts to stop these crimes.”