PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than a dozen local people are accused of stealing and selling catalytic converters in Washington County. One after another, members of a suspected theft ring appeared before a judge Thursday, accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of the car parts filled with precious metals.

While much is still unknown about the suspected thefts, court documents show many occurred in Washington County over a span of 18 months with at least 16 suspects. One man arraigned on Thursday, Brennan Doyle, faces an indictment of 72 charges, including theft, money laundering and racketeering. Another, Tanner Hellbusch, faces an indictment of 20 counts of similar charges. 

This comes as catalytic converter thefts continue to sweep the Portland metro and much of the country.

“It’s drastically jumped up. Since then, we’ve been anywhere from 10 to 20 stolen converters a day on a daily basis,” said Alex Smith, an exhaust technician at Darrel’s Economy Mufflers.

Smith says even his mom’s catalytic converter happened to be stolen Thursday. Their shop has seen countless customers coming in for help.

“It’s hard because they’re so quick with it. It doesn’t take hardly any time at all,” said Smith.

Court records show the catalytic converter’s stolen over the past year and a half were worth tens of thousands of dollars. Some of those suspects arraigned on Thursday are accused not only of theft, but of buying catalytic converters they knew were stolen.

Smith says he’s glad law enforcement are catching on to some of the thefts and in the meantime, suggests car owners also invest in shields to protect from theft, if they’re able to.

“It is a good thing to hear that they’re starting to kind of get an idea of who’s actually out there doing this stuff. It’s not just your typical criminal,” said Smith.

Many of these thefts detailed in court documents ranged from early 2021 to as recent as two weeks ago. Both Doyle and Hellbusch are expected back in court next Thursday.