TIGARD, Ore. — Thousands of people’s catalytic converters have been stolen this year, and Tigard is one of the areas where these thefts are happening often.
On Saturday, the Tigard Police Department partnered with a local car repair shop to mark people’s catalytic converters to make them less appealing to thieves.
“What we’re trying to do is actually be preventative instead of reactionary to the increased number of catalytic converter thefts that are happening,” said Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine.
Last year, 222 catalytic converters were stolen in Tigard. So far, this year there have been 157 reported thefts. The hope is by spray painting and marking the catalytic converters with identification numbers, police will be able to easily return the stolen ones when found.
“Over the last couple years in particular we’ve seen the number grow and it’s just because the precious metals that are inside of them that are so valuable,” said Chief McAlpine.
This is a problem in surrounding areas like Portland and Beaverton. Five trucks owned by Portland Public Schools were targeted, costing the district thousands of dollars. Portland International Airport is also ramping up security after numerous thefts there. Most recently, Beaverton police seized 3,000 stolen catalytic converters after a year-long investigation.
The uptick in thefts comes despite a new Oregon law that went into effect in January, aimed at preventing these types of crimes. The law ensures scrap metal businesses only buy catalytic converters from commercial sellers, not thieves. It’s been about seven months since that went into effect and these thefts don’t seem to be slowing down.
“It’s so prevalent today that big shopping mall parking lots — you just never know,” said Patricia Graham, one of the people at the Saturday event.
She, like a few others, learned her car was already protected.
“I was extremely lucky BMW has a plate underneath my car which protects it, so it would take somebody a long time to get into it,” she said.
Tigard police encourage people to take other preventative measures like parking your car inside or moving it often if it sits in one place.
“The reception has been phenomenal from the community. Their expression of appreciation has been felt today,” said Chief McAlpine.
Saturday's event filled up in 24 hours. Tigard police said they are planning to do more events like this in the future.