Michael Paubel

Michael S. Paubel, of Union, is a suspect in the string of recent catalytic converter thefts in Washington. He has been charged with motor vehicle theft, but Washington Police Department officials said Tuesday they are seeking additional charges related to the catalytic converter thefts.

The theft of a truck from a Washington hotel parking lot has led to the arrest of the man, who police said confessed to also being responsible for 17 recent catalytic converter thefts. 

Michael S. Paubel, 40, of Union, has been charged with stealing a motor vehicle. Additional charges may still be filed against Paubel, according to a press release from the Washington Police Department. 

According to police, the department has been investigating the June 20, 2021, theft of a 2001 dark green-colored Ford F-250 truck, which was last seen by its owner in the parking lot of the Washington Super 8 Motel, 2081 Eckelkamp Court.  

The truck was spotted by an officer of the Eureka Police Department during the early morning hours of July 4. The driver of that truck was the same suspect that WPD detectives had identified in several of the recent catalytic converter thefts. 

After being brought to Washington for questioning, the individual — later identified by police as Paubel — reportedly confessed to stealing the truck, another vehicle from the Walmart parking lot in Union, and at least 17 catalytic converter thefts. 

A court date has not been set in this case. Paubel’s bond was set at $75,000 cash only. 

The attraction to stealing a catalytic converter is the valuable metals inside the converter, which is an antipollution device. 

Although the amounts of each metal vary based on the car make and model, all catalytic converters have around 6 grams of platinum, palladium and rhodium. Platinum currently sells for $944 an ounce, palladium retails for $2,190 per ounce, and rhodium has been known to sell for up to $10,000 per ounce in the black market. It takes more than 28 grams to make an ounce.

Burglars can sell the remaining stolen parts at scrap yards for hundreds of dollars.