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More than 200 car owners get VIN, license plate numbers etched onto catalytic converters

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Posted at 8:55 PM, Aug 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 01:25:31-04

TEMPE — It takes just minutes for someone to sneak under a car and snatch a catalytic converter. Thieves steal them to sell the precious metals that are in them, which in turn costs thousands of dollars in repairs for car owners.

The thefts have grown in the last year and a half. Maricopa County Attorney’s Office says Phoenix Police reported around 70 catalytic converter thefts in 2019. In 2020, there were 720 reports. In 2021, that number grew to more than 4,700. This year already, the police department received roughly 2,300 reports, on pace to reach similar numbers as last year.

On Sunday, the attorney’s office partnered with Midas, an auto repair shop, to etch vehicle identification and license plate numbers on people’s catalytic converters for free.

“We want to send a message out to folks who are committing these types of crimes that we’re taking a hard look at what they’re doing and trying to deter their criminal behavior,” said Karla Navarrete, a spokesperson with MCAO.

Midas etched on 285 catalytic converters Sunday, even spray painting the converters to make them stand out more and hopefully deter criminals from wanting to steal them.

“You just hear every day or every week somebody in my neighborhood is getting their catalytic converter stolen. It’s preventative,” said Scott Cook who came by to get two of his cars’ catalytic converters done. He says his two cars he brought sit outside most of the time, which can make catalytic converters easier to access.

“I do have a lifted truck, so I hear it's very easy to steal. I'm coming here just to avoid any issues in the future or at least minimize them,” said Jaime Ramirez, another customer who came by Midas Sunday.

The partnership started by MCAO and Midas is done in hopes of slowing down the thefts and hold the criminals accountable. MCAO says the information now etched on those catalytic converters can help with prosecution.

“Our prosecutors have to prove that that catalytic converter came from a specific car,” Navarrete said, adding that the license plate and VIN numbers will help with that.

MCAO wants to host more etching events in the future. Midas says it is taking appointments for the free service at its East Valley stores.