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MLPD intervenes in multiple catalytic converter thefts

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | January 18, 2023 2:19 PM

MOSES LAKE — Moses Lake Police officers detained and arrested two suspects early Wednesday morning after interrupting an attempt to steal a catalytic converter on Valley Road, according to an MLPD statement.

“These cat thefts are killing us,” said Police Chief Kevin Fuhr. “Last year, we had more than 100 calls about catalytic converter thefts just in Moses Lake.”

The MLPD statement said that Raisa Sorlien, 33, and Brian Smith, 32, were both arrested after officers saw them underneath a car attempting to cut a catalytic converter off. As officers approached, both suspects attempted to flee, but were quickly arrested by MLPD officers, the statement said.

Smith was booked into the Grant County Jail after being charged with theft, malicious mischief and resisting arrest, while Sorlien was released, the statement said.

It is the second attempted catalytic converter theft MLPD officers have foiled in as many days. In a statement issued Tuesday, MLPD officers patrolling downtown arrested Kurtis Larson-Tungate, 39, as he was attempting to steal a catalytic converter, according to an MLPD statement issued on Tuesday.

Catalytic converters use small amounts of precious metals like platinum and palladium as a catalyst to convert engine exhaust gasses like carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen into less harmful gasses like carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor. Because of the presence of the precious metals, catalytic converters are frequently stolen and sold illegally as a quick way of getting cash, Fuhr said.

“They are quick to cut off, and thieves can get several hundred dollars. They are using the money to buy dope,” Fuhr said.

The MLPD statement said the department has dedicated nighttime patrols looking for catalytic converter thieves. Fuhr said the MLPD will also seize vehicles of those arrested for stealing or attempting to steal catalytic converters as a way of ensuring they don’t have transportation of their own.

“We will continue to work these and catch as many thieves as we can,” Fuhr said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

photo

COURTESY PHOTO/MLPD

A Moses Lake Police Department body cam image of Raisa Sorlien, 33, who was arrested with Brian Smith, 32, Wednesday morning while attempting to steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle on Valley Road in Moses Lake.

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