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How Jiffy Lube is working to combat the catalytic converter theft epidemic

Mechanics at the oil change company will spray paint your catalytic converter and tag it with the VIN free of charge.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Inside the Jiffy Lube at Southwest Canyon Road in Beaverton, a mechanic provided a glimpse at a new service the oil change company is rolling out in hopes of combatting catalytic converter thefts. It is something they are seeing far too often.

"Customer comes into the store and says, 'What's wrong with my car, it's making a lot of noise.' We get underneath it and we see that the catalytic converter has been taken," Justin Soha of Jiffy Lube said.

Unfortunately, plenty of people in Oregon and Southwest Washington can relate. 

In Clark County, more than 450 catalytic converters have been stolen since the start of the year. 

In Washington County, catalytic converter thefts jumped from a measly 28 in 2020 to 239 in 2021. 

Investigators believe that number would have skyrocketed in 2022 had detectives with the Beaverton Police Department not foiled a catalytic converter theft ring over the summer. The suspects in that case are accused of stealing $22 million worth of catalytic converters in Oregon, Washington and California. Some of those stolen car parts ended up on the East Coast.

"Younger people and those with lower incomes are disproportionately impacted by these crimes," Commander Timothy Tannenbaum of the Washington County Sheriff's Office said. "The cost of replacing a catalytic converter can be upwards of $1500, which is a large sum of money, especially for those who live paycheck to paycheck."

Credit: Mike Benner, KGW staff
Commander Timothy Tannenbaum speaks at a press conference Wednesday.

With that in mind, Jiffy Lube is launching the catalytic converter identification initiative. In a free, five to 10 minute service, a mechanic will spray your catalytic converter with a high temperature paint then engrave the vehicle identification number on it. This makes the catalytic converter, wanted for its precious metals, utterly useless to a thief.

"As a business we want to do what we can to help the community especially when we have the facility that's perfect for doing this," Soha said.

Only time will tell if this theft prevention works. What is clear right now is that sitting back idly and doing nothing is not an option, especially for the staff at Jiffy Lube, who have been victims of catalytic converter thefts.

"If we can help deter these thefts and help with prosecution we're going to do our best," Soha said.

If you would like to take advantage of the free service offered by Jiffy Lube all you have to do is go to a Portland, Salem or Vancouver area store.

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