West Coast crime ring busted for trafficking $22 million in stolen catalytic converters

Aug 12, 2022, 2:58 PM
catalytic converters...
Deputy Jaime Moran from the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department engraves the catalytic converter of a vehicle with a traceable number on July 14, 2021, in City of Industry, California. - Theft of catalytic converters across the US have soared over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, valuable to scrap metal dealers for the precious metals including rhodium, platinum and palladium. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Police in Beaverton, Ore. arrested the alleged leader of a crime ring responsible for stealing and trafficking more than 44,000 stolen catalytic converters since January 2021, with an operation that stretched into Washington state and across the entire West Coast.

Detectives say they identified 32-year-old Brennan Patrick Doyle as the operation’s leader. They searched his home on Lake Oswego last week, along with seven other properties, seizing more than 3,000 catalytic converters.

The crime ring was centered in the Portland metro area, but reached as far as New York and Texas, according to Beaverton police spokesperson Matt Henderson.

Catalytic converters became a hot commodity for theft during the pandemic due to the high-priced metals, including platinum, palladium, and rhodium, within them. Rhodium’s worth alone fluctuates from $16,000 to nearly $26,000 an ounce, according to cars.com.

The value of the parts stolen by this crime ring is estimated to be over $22 million.

Catalytic converter theft runs rampant in Seattle, nation sees dramatic increase

Fourteen individuals were indicted from the crime operation, including Doyle, who’s facing 72 different charges — racketeering, aggravated theft, and money laundering, among others.

Washington passed a new law earlier this year, HB 1815, unanimously in the House and Senate to help prevent this type of theft in Washington.

Washington has the third-highest catalytic converter theft rate in the country, according to national statistics. In 2019, there were only 42 statewide thefts. Now catalytic converter theft is up approximately 10,000% in Washington state over the last three years.

The new law requires ID and a traceable method of payment for catalytic converter sales so that sales of catalytic converters will be legitimate. The legislation is also creating a group to address ongoing issues.

Jail time for this crime does not increase under this law.

Maine, Louisiana, Florida, and California are just some of the states adding preventative legislation against the rampant increase of catalytic converter theft alongside Washington.

In 2021, State Farm alone paid $23 million to California consumers due to catalytic converter thefts.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs will establish, as funded, a grant and training program to assist local law enforcement in support of special enforcement targeting metal theft.

HB 1815 also requires scrap metal businesses to keep documentation ensuring catalytic converters come from vehicles registered in the seller’s name. This provision builds off other requirements to preserve evidence of stolen property.

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West Coast crime ring busted for trafficking $22 million in stolen catalytic converters