A 39-year-old man is facing felony theft charges after being arrested by Moses Lake Police overnight Tuesday morning. 

Officers were on foot patrol downtown at about 1:30am when they say they caught Kurtis Larson-Tungate in the act of stealing a catalytic converter.  

Moses Lake Police Captain Mike Williams says officers were specifically assigned to look for catalytic converter thieves. 

"Like every jurisdiction in our state, we've been getting hammered with catalytic converter thefts." said Williams. "So, we've been running some emphasis patrols." 

A second suspect fled the scene in a vehicle, and detectives are working to identify that person. 

Williams says catalytic converters are a popular item for thieves because they contain precious metals that can be easily sold to scrap yards. 

He said Moses Lake Police also target scrap yards for scrutiny. 

A bill passed unanimously last year by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee has cracked down on the underworld sales of catalytic converters. 

It requires businesses to show a record of their transactions and pay for catalytic converters through a traceable source, such as checks, and not cash. 

Scrap yards and auto wreckers must solicit motor-vehicle ownership documentation to enter into a catalytic converter sale. 

Captain Williams says thefts are still rampant and hard for police to clamp down on. 

“We’re getting hit somewhere in town almost every day,” Williams said. “And they’re very difficult to catch because they can be under a car and out in less than 30 seconds, and be gone. And in that 30 seconds, they’re causing thousands of dollars of damage.” 

Still, Moses Lake Police say they’ve caught two catalytic converter thieves in the past four days. 

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