BEAVERTON, Ore. — A year-long Beaverton police investigation into a catalytic converter theft ring led to the indictment of 14 suspects on multiple felony crime charges, including racketeering, aggravated theft and money laundering in late July. Beaverton police held a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the bust.
"We know that crime is increasing here in the metro area and it threatens the safety of our community," said Kevin Barton, Washington County District Attorney. "The Washington County DA is committed to working with all of our county and city public safety leaders, police department, sheriffs office, to ensure that our community remains safe."
The investigation began in late 2021 and is still ongoing. The search of eight locations, including a waterfront home in Lake Oswego, led to the collection of more than 3,000 catalytic converters, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, a high-end vehicle and jewelry, according to Beaverton Police Department (BPD) detectives.
A Washington County Grand Jury handed down the indictment on July 29.
According to BPD, the crime ring was centered in the Portland metropolitan area but spanned across more than six Oregon counties. A significant percentage of the stolen catalytic converters come from Oregon, but there isn't an exact number because the crime ring also reached into Washington, Nevada, California, Texas and New York.
Investigators are confident that the bust is going to put a "significant dent" in the Portland Metropolitan area catalytic converter thefts, according to BPD.
The investigation began when BPD learned that 32-year-old Tanner Lee Hellbusch of Beaverton was running an illegal stolen catalytic converter fencing operation.
On March 1, 2022, Hellbusch was pulled over by BPD and investigators found over 100 stolen catalytic converters with an approximate value of $80,000 in his possession.
BPD later identified 32-year-old Brennan Patrick Doyle of Lake Oswego as the ring leader. Dolye is believed to have trafficked more than 44,000 stolen catalytic converters since early 2021 which estimated over $22 million dollars.
Doyle and Hellbusch, along with 12 others, participated in an organized effort to steal catalytic converters from vehicles. The BPD said Doyle's organized ring capitalized on the increased price of rhodium, platinum and palladium, which are the valuable metals found in catalytic converters.
RELATED: Washington had the highest rate of catalytic converter thefts in the nation in 2021, report finds