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With thefts up almost 300%, three county auto businesses partner with Los Altos police to help thwart catalytic converter thieves

Vehicle owners can get free etching of identifying information on the pricey exhaust system device

Calalytic converter thefts increased dramatically during the pandemic, leading to a new program offering free etching of identifying information on the expensive exhaust system devices. Pictured, a police car passes by the parking lot between Mercy Street and California Street in downtown Mountain View on Jan. 16, 2019. Photo by Magali Gauthier

Three automotive businesses in Santa Clara County have partnered with the Los Altos Police Department in an effort to reduce the number of catalytic converters that are stolen, police announced Sunday.

The Catalytic Converter Etch and Sketch Program will allow people to get their catalytic converter, a critical component of a vehicles exhaust system, etched for free with their license plate or VIN number in case it gets stolen.

Etching is a process that produces a pattern or design on a hard material by eating into the material's surface by laser beam or acid.

Police said when people etch their converter, it creates a way for law enforcement to locate the owner if they have their catalytic converter stolen and it gets recovered.

Allied Auto Works in Los Altos, Magnussen's Toyota of Palo Alto and Los Altos 76 Station are taking part in the program.

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Although standard etching is free, anti-theft devices or bracket installations are not and the program does not pay for installations.

Replacing a converter can cost a person up to $4,000, police said.

Data from State Farm Insurance claims showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, thefts in catalytic converters rose drastically by 293% nationwide from June 1, 2020, to June 30 2021.

California has been the state hit hardest by these thefts, with State Farm paying over $10.8 million for 4,507 catalytic converter theft claims. That number drastically increased last year to $23 million paid for 9,057 theft claims, according to State Farm data.

According to police, thieves target these car parts because they contain expensive materials that have a street value up to $250. Removal can take less than a minute.

Appointments are required for the service and people are asked to mention the program when seeking assistance.

Any automotive business owners wanting to join the program should contact Detective Fantozzi at [email protected]

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With thefts up almost 300%, three county auto businesses partner with Los Altos police to help thwart catalytic converter thieves

Vehicle owners can get free etching of identifying information on the pricey exhaust system device

by Victoria Franco / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Mon, May 9, 2022, 11:41 am

Three automotive businesses in Santa Clara County have partnered with the Los Altos Police Department in an effort to reduce the number of catalytic converters that are stolen, police announced Sunday.

The Catalytic Converter Etch and Sketch Program will allow people to get their catalytic converter, a critical component of a vehicles exhaust system, etched for free with their license plate or VIN number in case it gets stolen.

Etching is a process that produces a pattern or design on a hard material by eating into the material's surface by laser beam or acid.

Police said when people etch their converter, it creates a way for law enforcement to locate the owner if they have their catalytic converter stolen and it gets recovered.

Allied Auto Works in Los Altos, Magnussen's Toyota of Palo Alto and Los Altos 76 Station are taking part in the program.

Although standard etching is free, anti-theft devices or bracket installations are not and the program does not pay for installations.

Replacing a converter can cost a person up to $4,000, police said.

Data from State Farm Insurance claims showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, thefts in catalytic converters rose drastically by 293% nationwide from June 1, 2020, to June 30 2021.

California has been the state hit hardest by these thefts, with State Farm paying over $10.8 million for 4,507 catalytic converter theft claims. That number drastically increased last year to $23 million paid for 9,057 theft claims, according to State Farm data.

According to police, thieves target these car parts because they contain expensive materials that have a street value up to $250. Removal can take less than a minute.

Appointments are required for the service and people are asked to mention the program when seeking assistance.

Any automotive business owners wanting to join the program should contact Detective Fantozzi at [email protected]

Comments

Yonatan
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on May 9, 2022 at 1:00 pm
Yonatan, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 1:00 pm

I'd love it cops stopped their childish work slowdowns that they have been on since people said "hey maybe don't murder black people" and try to actually solve some crimes. Would be nice.


Neilson Buchanan
Registered user
another community
on May 9, 2022 at 3:16 pm
Neilson Buchanan, another community
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 3:16 pm

Thanks go to local police and auto folks for the etching concept. I hope it makes a difference.
Equally important is the person who compiled meaningful information about the incidence of theft.

I have a difficult time thanking insurance industry which has the best collective data not reaching the public eye. This type of information could assist law enforcement leaders obtain and deploy most effective resources,

Highly distributed theft is challenging to law enforcement but it is severely handicapped without public understanding of facts and trends.


Bernie Brightman
Registered user
North Whisman
on May 9, 2022 at 9:55 pm
Bernie Brightman, North Whisman
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 9:55 pm

Had my cat converter stolen three times and am here to tell you that sorry, etching is pretty much useless. The first thing they do is break the converter down into parts. It's the rare metals like palladium that they want, not the converter itself. Nobody will see the etching because it goes out in the trash. What they should really do is force people to pay more attention to where they buy these rare metals. But is anyone doing anything about that? Oh no, mustn't disrupt the wheels of capitalism. This etching thing is just a vain attempt to make people feel better. The reality is that they have no solution for you and nobody on government is even working on one. They're all too busy calculating how to collect their double or triple pensions.


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