Program continues: Car dealership drills catalytic converters to prevent theft
If you live and drive in parts of Western Washington, you won’t have to worry much about your catalytic converter being stolen.
The Tacoma Police Department and Titus-Will Toyota are teaming up again on a program known as CATCON ID to etch catalytic converters with a unique serial number to prevent and discourage theft.
The converter is also sprayed with bright orange paint and there is a window sticker to alert potential thieves that the vehicle is protected.
The agency and department last collaborated Full-day CATCON ID initiative On November 3.
“I think there are rumors that if you steal a catalytic converter, the way it’s marked and identified, local businesses won’t do business with you if you bring what is believed to be a stolen catalytic converter into their business,” said Detective William Muse with the Tacoma Police Department.
Previous coverage: A West Coast criminal gang busted for smuggling $22 million worth of stolen catalytic converters
The program works so well that catalytic converter thefts have decreased by 79% since its inception.
Catalytic converters remain valuable to thieves
Catalytic converter theft has been a serious threat to car owners for years, but there have been far more incidents than previously reported, Carfax reported earlier this year. The company said that up to 153,000 items were stolen across the United States in 2022.
From Kero 7: Thieves cut off catalytic converters and drain them
CARFAX data scientists arrived at this estimate after looking at catalytic converter replacements from millions of service records, and the total was actually up 2% from 2021.
Transformers remain highly sought-after targets because thieves hope to make big profits by melting down precious metals found in pollution control devices — namely platinum, palladium and rhodium, Carfax reported.
For example, platinum was trading at around $880 an ounce on Tuesday. Palladium reached nearly $1,000 an ounce. The price of rhodium was about $4,400 per ounce. They have all declined significantly year over year, but metals can still provide packaged paydays in the form of converters to thieves.
Of the top 10 targeted vehicles nationwide in 2022, three were from Ford and Chevrolet, and Honda and Toyota had two each, Carfax reported.
The company added that looking at the top 10 targeted vehicles in the West, including Washington state, there were three Toyota and Ford vehicles, Honda had two vehicles, and Subaru and Nissan each had one vehicle.
Prepared agents help the program succeed
Moses said the program and its success would not be possible without Titus Well Toyota.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect, but the absolutely amazing amount of people who would attend and the positive response we got from them was kind of overwhelming,” said Jordan Owens of Titus Wheel Toyota. “They didn’t expect something like this to come from a car dealership.”
Owens says some drivers bring all of their cars in to be engraved. A woman brought seven cars.
During the November 2022 launch of this project, more than 300 vehicles were tagged, the Tacoma Police Department said in a press release earlier this year.
Best of all, besides keeping your catalytic converters safe, the CATCON ID program is free.
“They didn’t expect something like this to come from a car dealership,” Owens said.
This solution sounds simple, but it’s not possible without community partners like Titus Wheel Toyota working alongside police.
“Law enforcement can’t do everything on our own,” Moses said. “We have to think of new ways so we can keep the public safe, make sure we gain the public’s trust and show them innovative ways to fight crime.”
Titus-Will is planning another CATCON ID day in January.
Other cities in Western Washington that have hosted CATCON ID events in the past include: Bellevue, Renton, Everett and Bothell.
Contributing: Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest