January 10, 2022
Elisabeth Shepard, Communications Director
DA Schmidt announces bipartisan law preventing catalytic converter theft is now in effect
PORTLAND, Oregon – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that a bipartisan state law, introduced at his request, has taken effect as of January 1, 2022. The law, SB 803, sponsored by State Senator Chris Gorsek (D), and co-sponsored by State Senator Bill Kennemer (R) was crafted to prevent catalytic converter thefts in Oregon.
“This legislation earned broad support from legislators, law enforcement agencies, and the scrap metal industry. It will provide Oregonians across the state relief from being victims of catalytic converter thefts while conserving limited resources across law enforcement for other serious crimes,” said State Senator Gorsek (D).
Catalytic converter thefts have dramatically increased the last few years. Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Demer, who prosecutes these crimes in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, thought up a solution in time for the 2021 legislative session in Salem.
“Beer kegs are made up of valuable metal, yet we don’t have an epidemic of beer keg theft. That’s because there are market protections in place that make it nearly impossible to profit from selling them because there are no buyers,” said Demer.
“SB 803 works the same way. Most catalytic converters ultimately end up in the chain-of-commerce at large recycling companies. These companies absolutely do not want to purchase stolen catalytic converters and with this law, only legitimately acquired catalytic converters will have the proper paperwork and be purchasable. Just like how these recycling companies do not purchase beer kegs without proper paperwork, they will not purchase catalytic converters without proper paperwork,” Demer continued.
SB 803 targets the increase of catalytic converter thefts in two ways. First, it limits the sales of catalytic converters to commercial vendors only, which creates a barrier to selling them on the black market. Second, it requires that scrap metal businesses retain the make, model year, vehicle identification number, and license number associated with catalytic converters they purchase in order to redeem their value. This ensures that even those unscrupulous commercial vendors willing to buy stolen catalytic converters are unable to profit from them.
“Rather than asking for more money to throw at the problem, SB 803 gets straight to the point by eliminating the financial incentive to steal a catalytic converter,” said State Senator Kennemer (R).
“We can’t rely only on arrest and prosecution to solve this problem. SB 803 strikes at the heart of catalytic converter theft by taking away the market. This will help us get upstream of this scourge and allow us to focus our limited resources more effectively,” DA Schmidt said.