Armed thieves steal Bellevue family’s catalytic converter

BELLEVUE, Wash. — A Bellevue family’s catalytic converter was stolen from their Prius and it was caught on surveillance video.

The family told KIRO 7 that they are grateful they did not go to the door last week Monday after hearing a loud noise outside.

Just before 5 a.m., two people showed up at the Bellevue home. While one man got underneath the car, the other stood guard with a gun pointed at the home.

Police said they are investigating.

“I hate to say that a thief is smart but they know what vehicles to target,” said Bryan Davis, a manager with Kitsap Mufflers and Brakes in Bremerton. “You know the Toyota Prius is one of the easiest ones to get the CADS out of.”

Davis told KIRO 7 that he has had 17 customers request for replacement catalytic converters this week after theirs were stolen. “We probably went from about two to three a month to about 30 to 40 vehicles a month,” Davis said. “Right now, we’re getting to the point where we have repair shops out of Tacoma — going on the other side of the bridge who are reaching out to us.”

We heard from Tacoma police who confirm that this type of crime has increased.

In 2020, 181 catalytic converters were stolen. In 2021, thefts of catalytic converters increased more than five times, reaching 1077.

The city of Olympia is also dealing with the same issue.

Last Saturday, officers stopped a theft in progress after hearing the sound of power tools from a car dealership.

“One thing that we’re getting a lot of cars from right now is from the Sea-Tac Airport,” Davis said. “The overnight parking and the long-term parking seems to be a huge target.”

Several months ago, KIRO 7 spoke with the Port of Seattle about catalytic converter thefts at Sea-Tac Airport. A spokesperson said, “We’ve done a number of steps to try and circumvent some of these thefts.”

Airport officials said they have increased patrols and have added a dummy cart to help catch criminals in the act.

Davis said he thinks this recent spike in interest in catalytic converters is directly related to the rising price of scrap metal.

“It’s so bad not that there is a lot of violence that is starting to surface from this as well,” said Davis.

When asked what can be done to help prevent the thefts, Davis told KIRO 7 he suggested that people should park their vehicles as close to their homes as possible or the place they are shopping at.

Tacoma police suggest marking your converter, which will make it identifiable because many don’t have serial numbers.

To stop thieves, the Everett Police Department has launched a program called Project CATCON ID, where they host events and drivers can get their vehicle identification number engraved onto their catalytic converter.

There are also bills to tackle the problem and they have appeared in the state legislative session underway in Olympia.