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Tacoma police offer free engraving on catalytic converters to prevent theft

Nov 18, 2022, 7:40 AM
catalytic converter...
A brand new catalytic converter sits on a car lift at Johnny Franklin's Muffler on July 11, 2022 in San Rafael, California. Thefts of catalytic converters are surging across the nation as thieves seek out precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium that fill the inside of the antipollution car part. Thefts have nearly tripled since the beginning of the pandemic with over 50,000 in 2021 compared to under 20,000 in 2020. Vehicle owners are having to pay thousands of dollars to replace the stolen parts and in some cases can't get the parts due to supply chain issues. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Tacoma Police and local dealerships are joining together Friday to offer free identification engraving on catalytic converters.

The event is open to everyone, with no reservation required.

West Coast crime ring busted for trafficking $22 million in stolen catalytic converters

The engraving is a part of Project CATCON ID, a Tacoma Law Enforcement initiative supported by the National Insurance Criminal Bureau.

Tacoma joins several other local police departments in offering the service because catalytic converter theft has become a common problem for law enforcement.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were 12 times as many successful converter thefts in 2021 than in 2019. And in March, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1815 to require proof of ownership before someone may sell a catalytic converter as scrap metal.

Tacoma PD Public Information Officer Wendy Haddow says they are easy to steal because “right now, as it comes from the factory, there are no identifying numbers on it.”

Catalytic converters are frequently in demand because the devices contain precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

“We are hoping for a steady crowd,” said Haddow of the engraving event. “We’ll do as many vehicles as we can get to. Generally, the procedure takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete.”

The event is being held Nov. 18 between 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at Titus-Will Toyota, 3506 S. Sprague Ave., and Simmons Automotive, 5601 S. Proctor St. Vehicles will be taken on a first come – first served basis.

“Ultimately, by adding an owner-applied number, especially in mass, this will improve law enforcement efforts locally and nationally,” Tacoma PD said in a press release.

Catalytic converter theft has become a nationwide problem. Earlier this week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Prevent Auto Recycling Theft Act.

The Federal legislation would require a vehicle identification number (VIN) to be stamped on all converters, making it easier to trace stolen parts back to their vehicle. The bill would also provide federal dollars to help defray the cost of events to etch VIN numbers onto converters already in use.

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Tacoma police offer free engraving on catalytic converters to prevent theft