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Thief swipes five catalytic converters from Portland Public Schools trucks

The school district says the theft will cost PPS $7,000-$8,000 in repairs. They're asking for the public's help to find the suspect.
Credit: PPS

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools will have to pay thousands of dollars to repair vehicles after a thief stole catalytic converters from five trucks, according to the district. 

It happened around 3 a.m. on Sunday, February 13. The suspect broke into the locked parking lot at Portland Public Schools’ Green Thumb facility on Southeast 60th Avenue, PPS wrote in a Facebook post. The individual was driving a green 1996 or 1997 Honda vehicle with a brown hood and an open sunroof.

The district says the theft will cost PPS $7,000 to $8,000 in repairs. 

Catalytic converters contain precious metals like palladium and rhodium, which make it easy for thieves to sell stolen converters for hundreds of dollars.

In September of last year, thieves stole catalytic converters from 19 school buses and three district owned vehicles in the Reynolds School District, costing the district roughly $70,000 in damage. 

In an effort to reduce these thefts, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill last year that ensures scrap metal businesses only buy or receive catalytic converters from commercial sellers, not thieves. Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill, which took effect last month.

RELATED: Catalytic converter theft deterrent bill passes House

Washington state is also hoping to add a similar legislation soon. On Saturday, the state's House of Representatives passed a bill requiring scrap metal businesses have more documentation when buying catalytic converters and establishing a state task force to address the rise in thefts. 

The number of catalytic converter thefts increased in Washington state by 3,800% between 2019 and 2020, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

RELATED: Oregonians await catalytic converter anti-theft law to take effect

Another Washington bill, SB 5495, introduced in the Senate would prohibit the resale of catalytic converters to scrap dealers except from commercial enterprises and vehicle owners. The bill would also require scrap dealers to pay for converters via a mailed check as opposed to an on-the-spot cash payment.

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