March 31, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that Dereck Conant received a 366-day prison sentence for stealing a catalytic converter.
Conant pleaded guilty to one count of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle.
By pleading guilty, Conant admitted that he unlawfully and knowingly exercised control over a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
The state alleged that by jacking up the victim’s vehicle, Conant took control of the car in an effort to steal its catalytic converter.
This appears to be the first time that a prosecutor’s office in Oregon has secured a conviction for the crime of “Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle” under the theory that the suspect jacked-up the victim’s vehicle to then steal the catalytic converter.
On November 14, 2020, the victim, parked her vehicle at the Multnomah County Albina Library. After work, the librarian started her vehicle and heard unusually loud sounds so she left the vehicle in place and got a ride home. The next day, the victim’s neighbor, a mechanic, looked at the vehicle and determined the sound’s source to be from the missing catalytic converter.
Video from the library shows it took approximately two minutes to lift the vehicle up, steal the catalytic converter and then lower the vehicle.
A catalytic converter contains expensive metals that can be sold for several hundred dollars each to scrap metal businesses.
Oregon Senate Bill 803 will:
- Directly target the underground market for catalytic converters.
- Require that a scrap metal business retain the make, model year, vehicle identification number and license number associated with any catalytic converter they receive.
- Provide law enforcement with crucial information to identify, investigate and ultimately prosecute those businesses who choose to profit by skirting the law.
Oregon is not alone in this proposal to address the theft of catalytic converters. At least 15 other states are currently considering legislation attempting to shut down the black market.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office wants to recognize Portland Police Officers Amy Li, Joshua Dyk, and Thomas LeCarno for their dedicated efforts investigating this case.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Demer prosecuted this case.
Brent Weisberg, Communications Director
Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office