PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police arrested two men accused of stealing a catalytic converter from a vehicle at a Northeast Portland car dealership on Sunday.

Officers were called to a report of a theft at Alpine Motors, near Northeast 64th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, around 7:35 a.m.

Dealership owner Michael Alldritt followed the suspects and officers stopped them near Northeast 86th Avenue and Prescott Street.

"I see the passenger dart out and get between two cars and I realize something is about to happen, either they're going to steal a car, steal some parts off it, or do something, and that's when I called 911," Alldritt said.

Police arrested 39-year-old Donald Newcomb III and 48-year-old Andrew Ooten on first-degree criminal mischief charges. Ooten is also charged with attempted assault, unlawful use of a weapon and first-degree criminal mischief in connection with another catalytic converter theft, police said.

Donald L. Newcomb III and Andrew Ooten
Donald L. Newcomb III (left) and Andrew Ooten.
Portland police

Portland police say they’ve seen a “dramatic increase” in reported catalytic converter thefts in recent months. The converters contain valuable metals, like palladium, which make them targets for thieves.

"Upwards of hundreds of dollars, some can be worth 300-400 bucks and it takes them 10 minutes to get it," Alldritt said.

From June 1 to Dec. 31, 2019, police say they’ve taken 129 reports of stolen catalytic converters, but they believe many victims don’t report the thefts because they don’t think it would make a difference. Police are asking people to report the thefts because it could help investigators track organized criminal groups and aggregate the charges against the suspects.

"You know we've had three incidents since we've been here and we've caught two of the guys so we're two for three," said Alldritt.

Catalytic converter
A stolen catalytic converter.
Portland police

Reporting catalytic converter thefts

Police are asking people to report these thefts when they happen. If there is no suspect information, then they can report at their convenience online. Those making reports will receive a case number by email. Or, victims can call the police non-emergency dispatch line at (503) 823-3333.

Police say you can minimize the risk of being victimized by parking in a garage or well-lit area. If you see someone working on a vehicle on your street late at night, especially if you hear the sounds of sawing, then call 911. If anyone has surveillance video of a confirmed theft that has not been shared with police, then call the non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

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