A multi-agency investigation spanning nearly a full year culminated last week with the indictment of 14 individuals and the seizure of more than 3,000 catalytic converters stolen from across the Portland metro area along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and luxury items, Beaverton Police announced this week.
Police say the Portland-based crime ring spanned six Oregon counties, including Clackamas, and also reached into Washington, Nevada, California, Texas and New York.
The alleged ringleader, 32-year-old Brennan Patrick Doyle of Lake Oswego, is believed to have trafficked more than 44,000 stolen catalytic converters since January 2021, with an estimated street value of over $22 million dollars, according to officials.
Beaverton detectives began investigating the trafficking of stolen catalytic converters late last year and identified Doyle as the ring’s leader in March.
The investigation began with 32-year-old Beaverton resident Tanner Lee Hellbusch, who allegedly ran an operation fencing the stolen converters. Police stopped Hellbusch on March 1 in a vehicle transporting more than 100 stolen converters with an approximate value of $80,000.
During the next five months, Beaverton detectives determined Hellbusch, Doyle and at least a dozen associates participated in an organized effort to steal catalytic converters from vehicles up and down the West Coast.
Police say Doyle’s organization capitalized on the increased price of rhodium, platinum and palladium — valuable metals found in catalytic converters. Rhodium alone is currently valued at more than $14,000 an ounce — up from approximately $2,500 an ounce in 2019.
A Washington County grand jury on July 29 handed down indictments for the 14 alleged criminals on charges including racketeering, aggravated theft and money laundering.
Last week’s raid included a search of eight locations including a waterfront residence in Lake Oswego and led to the seizure of thousands of stolen converters, cash, a high-end vehicle and jewelry.
This investigation was made possible by the assistance of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, the Oregon Department of Justice, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tigard Police Department.
“We know that crime is increasing here in the metro area and it threatens the safety of our community,” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton said at a press conference announcing the arrests Thursday.
“The Washington County DA is committed to working with all of our county and city public safety leaders, police department, sheriff’s office, to ensure that our community remains safe.”
Investigators believe the bust will put a “significant dent” in the epidemic of catalytic converter thefts in the Portland metro area, according to Beaveton police.
Police say the investigation is ongoing.
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