BELLEVUE, Wash. — Bellevue police officers arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of stealing a catalytic converter off a Prius in Bellevue early Tuesday morning.
Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across King County, and the nation. Preliminary data from the Seattle Police Department shows the rise in catalytic converter thefts jumped from 13 in 2019 to more than 700 in 2020, and 123 were already reported in January of this year.
Catalytic converters are partially made of rare metals, including palladium, rhodium and platinum, which makes them attractive to thieves.
Police responded to a call on the 800 block of 100th Avenue NE around 4:15 a.m. Tuesday morning. After hearing a noise outside her window, the owner of the Prius woke up and witnessed a man beneath her car. The car had been elevated on a car jack, according to police.
The woman told officers she watched the suspect get into a silver sedan and flee. Officers arrived and found the thief removed the catalytic converter from the car. While officers interviewed the victim, another patrol officer stopped a silver sedan with wires sticking out of the trunk, according to police. Officers found a catalytic converter in the car with freshly cut metal that matched the metal cut from the Prius.
The suspect left behind two power saws and a car jack which were collected as evidence. The suspect was arrested on charges of theft, malicious mischief, driving with a suspended license, making or possessing motor vehicle theft tools, making or having burglar tools and possession of stolen property among other charges.
The suspect was arrested and booked into King County jail.