CMPD tries a new way to protect your car and catalytic converter

PLUS: Check out a new map showing the top 5 zip codes for catalytic converter theft near you
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 10:43 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The growing frequency of catalytic converter thefts is forcing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police to try innovative solutions to slow the trend. The police department partnered with AAA and Mastergard to brand catalytic converters in an effort to deter theft and catch perpetrators.

CMPD recently held an ‘etching’ event for car owners at the AAA shop in Pineville. AAA Care Operations Director Scott Stilwell said customers coming into body shops with sawed-off converters is a common occurrence.

“We see them on a weekly basis, unfortunately,” Stillwell said.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter theft grew by more than 1,000 percent from 2019 to 2022 nationwide.

WBTV used CMPD incident reports to track catalytic converter thefts and theft of motor vehicle parts across Charlotte. Using those reports, WBTV generated two maps to show the scale of catalytic converter theft.

Every Reported Theft Since January 2022

Top 5 Zip Codes For Catalytic Converter Theft

CMPD Captain Michael Anderson recently told WBTV there is a limit on what law enforcement can achieve.

“If auto manufacturers would put a VIN number on the catalytic converters that gives us the ability to be able to track down a victim, but also to be able to make sure we put the appropriate charges on the suspect,” Captain Anderson told WBTV.

Since car manufacturers aren’t marking converters, CMPD and other police departments across the country are using stickers and acid paint to mark converters on their own.

“It’s really a double protection where you have the sticker, and if that sticker were to come off or melt off, it’s literally etched into the converter as well,” Stillwell said.

When CMPD arrested more than a dozen defendants as part of an operation targeting converter theft, officers had no real way to identify who the victims were or if they were even stolen.

With the etching on the converter, it provides multiple opportunities to track down where it originated from.

“We’re hoping that them seeing that there’s an identification mark on these converters is going to be a deterrent, but in the event that they do cut off that converter and they go to sell it, there’s going to be an identification number on that converter so the police, the recycling companies, can identify that back to the rightful owner,” Stillwell said.

To check out how you can get an etching on your catalytic converter click here.

To help consumers, CARFAX has compiled a nationwide list of the top 2022 targets for these precious-metal thieves:

1. Ford F-Series pickup trucks

2. Honda Accord

3. Toyota Prius

4. Honda CR-V

5. Ford Explorer

6. Ford Econoline vans

7. Chevrolet Equinox

8. Chevrolet Silverado

9. Toyota Tacoma

10. Chevrolet Cruze

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