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Catalytic converter thefts remain high across Oregon, Pacific Northwest

Volkswagen Vanagon Catalytic Converter; new stainless steel exhaust installed on a Volkswagen Vanagon.

Thefts of catalytic converters continue to plague car owners across Oregon.

Ken Jamieson owns Junction City Muffler Shop. He told KLCC for the last year and a half, he’s averaged two calls a day from someone missing a catalytic converter.

“A catalytic converter is equipped on every vehicle out there. What it does, it takes the hydrocarbons and converts it to vapor.”

Jamieson says he's heard of thefts from all over the map, including Portland, Seattle, California, and Idaho.

A tell-tale sign that a catalytic converter’s been stolen is when the owner starts the ignition on their vehicle. A loud -almost deafening-noise can be heard.

Audi A4 1.9 TDI Catalytic Converter

“Thieves are stealing them, they’re selling them on the black market,” continued Jamieson. “There is radium, platinum, rhodium, all those precious metals are worth a little bit of money.”

Crooks can get up to $1500 for these devices, and thefts are happening all across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Thankfully, shops like Jamieson’s offers a safeguard.

“We sell a universal shield that actually blocks off the cat,” explained Jamieson. “So when you crawl underneath there, you have no way of really cutting it off.

“We’ve also sold a few alarms, we build our own converter theft devices, a cable system that wraps around it, that it’s just impossible to cut.”

Jamieson says he’s all about business, but hates getting it this way. He says if black market dealers would only stop buying swiped catalytic converters, thieves will stop taking them.

Copyright @2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.