This last summer, my partner’s car was stolen from right in front of our house. The next day it was found abandoned and towed to an impound lot.
The attendant at the tow lot explained that our steering column had been smashed open so any key could start the car, and though there were signs of an attempt to remove it, including a hastily discarded scattering of tools in the backseat, the catalytic converter was still intact. So was the skull-shaped meth pipe they left in the center console.
The tow driver posited that the thieves were likely in the process of removing the converter when the Portland Police Bureau or some other such entity rolled up on them. Considering the deserted meth skull they left behind, it seemed they evacuated our Subaru Forester in a right hurry.
We ended up selling the car, but the question remained: Who the fuck is buying all these stolen catalytic converters and how do they keep getting away with it?
Today, on the Dive podcast, I’m talking to Lucas Manfield, whose cover story “From Portland to Jersey” not only answers that question, but also paints a picture of a nationwide crisis where bad actors can connect on the shady side of Facebook Marketplace and then collect millions in illicit sales—well, assuming they cover their tracks well enough.