PPB: ‘Dramatic increase’ in catalytic converter thefts


A man witnessed 2 suspects in the act of stealing the valuable car part

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two thieves were arrested on Sunday morning in the Roseway neighborhood as they attempted to make off with a catalytic converter.

The “theft in progress” unfolded at a car lot on NE Sandy Blvd. The dealerships owner, Michael Alldritt, saw it happen and tipped off police. He even followed the suspects until officers arrived.

Police stopped the two men a short distance away. Inside the car, officers found a stolen catalytic converter—an exhaust emission control device which filters toxic gases in a car’s exhaust—as well as a car jack and more tools police believe were used to steal the car part.

“We lose a lot of money when these people steal all of these parts, and we have to recoup that. This is how I support my family and my kids,” said Alldritt, Alpine Motors owner. “So it really hits home when this happens. It’s not a victimless crime.”

Both suspects, 48-year-old Andrew Ooten and 39-year-old Donald Newcomb III, were booked into the Multnomah County Jail where they were charged with criminal mischief.

Left: Andrew Ooten. Right: Donald Newcomb (PPB)

Portland police said thefts of this variety have dramatically increased in recent months. Between June 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019, the Portland Police Bureau received 129 reports of catalytic converter thefts. Almost half—44%—of those reports were made to the bureau’s North Precinct.

Authorities also said they believe the problem is under-reported.

“We believe many victims do not report the crime thinking that it will not make a difference,” said PPB in a Monday statement. “At times, if we get the reports, we can better track organized criminal groups, aggregate the charges against the suspects, and submit them to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

Catalytic converters contain valuable metals like palladium. Replacing the part can cost the car owner anywhere from $900 to $2,500. If you have been a victim of a catalytic converter theft, call police to report the crime.

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