PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After 14 people were indicted this week for their alleged involvement in a “theft ring” involving thousands of catalytic converters, Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton talked to KOIN 6 News about the importance of prosecuting these crimes.
When Beaverton Police Department announced the takedown of the organized catalytic converter theft ring on Thursday, authorities told KOIN 6 News their nearly year-long investigation would have been meaningless without the willingness of the district attorney to make it a priority to prosecute.
It’s a crime Washington County DA Kevin Barton calls a “quality of life” crime. These crimes include assault, car and other property theft and vandalism at small and big businesses. Misdemeanor crimes, he says, are rampant in the Portland metro area and impact residents’ ability to live in and feel safe in the community.
“It’s not that way because we don’t have laws or we don’t have the tools to deal with it. It’s that way because we don’t have leaders who have the political courage to do what’s necessary to address crime so that regular law-abiding people in our community can go about their day and not worry about their car being stolen, their house being broken into or they themselves being attacked,” Barton explained.
During a press conference on Thursday, Barton explained these “quality of life crimes” have a disproportionate impact.
“Quality of life crimes have a direct impact on the livability in our community. They often disproportionately and negatively impact the financially vulnerable and historically marginalized as they strain resources of both small businesses and families alike,” Barton said.
In 2021, the Washington County DA’s office filed just over 4,000 criminal misdemeanor cases, compared to Clackamas County which filed about 3,100 criminal cases. In Oregon’s largest county, Multnomah County, the DA filed 2,840 cases.