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Everett Police program is to fight catalytic converter thefts


UPDATE: Another catalytic converter engraving event is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sno-Isle Tech Center, 9001 Airport Rd., Everett.



Jim Scolman photo

City of Everett employee Jason McCarter engraves the vehicle’s VIN number on its catalytic converter. McCarter, a 22-year-employee of the City of Everett, is assisted by Kory Bustad at the Jan. 8 CatCon ID event held by Everett Police.


EVERETT — Amanda Bloomquist had hers stolen at a concert.
Jocelyn Gamble’s grandfather had his stolen in front of his apartment.
Henry Leone has not had his catalytic converter stolen, and he wants to keep it that way.
All three drove here early on a Saturday morning for the Everett Police Department’s second round of engraving vehicle identification numbers on the converters in an attempt to curb thefts.
They weren’t alone.
City workers engraved 42 catalytic converters for free during the four-hour event Jan. 8. Even more people were turned away.
“This is a wonderful thing they’re doing,” said Thomas Cox, who brought cookies for the staff.
Cox works at a collision repair shop, and he’s seen the effects a recent rash of converter thefts has taken on the Puget Sound area.
“We’re back ordered. We have to search high and low to get parts,” he said. “It’s an absolute nightmare.”
Thefts of catalytic converters in the state skyrocketed in 2021, from 21 thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles to 117 thefts per 100,000 in 2020, according to BeenVerified, which collates public and proprietary data sets.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office logged 824 catalytic converter thefts last year, a staggering 984% increase above 2020, when there were 76 thefts logged
in unincorporated county and its contract cities including Snohomish.
Catalytic converters contain precious metals (palladium, rhodium and platinum) that make them profitable to sell to scrap metal recyclers. Prices of these metals have soared recently, making converters an attractive target for criminals looking to score quick cash.
Skilled perpetrators can slip under a car or truck and saw off a converter within a minute. Their favorite targets are Toyota Priuses, 4Runners and Tacomas; plus Honda Elements and Accords.
Replacing a stolen converter typically costs between $900 and $4,000.
The problem is so prevalent that a state Legislator filed a bill, Senate Bill 5495, that would restrict scrap metal dealers to buying catalytic converters only from authorized enterprises and vehicle owners.
It would require the dealers to keep records of VIN numbers when converters are resold, and delay acceptance of cash payments for at least five days.
Everett police, meanwhile, initiated Project CATCON ID to help deter thieves at the source.
At CATCON events, a police technician engraves the last eight digits of owners’ vehicle identification number on their catalytic converters, then highlights the number with high temperature paint.
A window sticker warns that the car’s converter has been engraved and tagged.
If the converter is stolen anyway, the engraved VIN numbers can help police track it back to the owner and solve crimes.
Information about the Jan. 29 engraving event is on www.everettwa.gov/2743/Catalytic-Converter-Theft-Project-CATCON
There is no charge for CATCON engraving, and no appointment is necessary.
But if the previous event is any indication, it’s best to arrive early.

Other steps recommended to prevent converter theft:
• Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device, such as a skid shield, in your vehicle.
• Park your car in a locked garage or in a well-lit area. Consider installing motion-activated lights and security cameras.
• In public parking garages and lots, park near the front of the building entrance or other areas where pedestrian traffic is high.
• Weld the catalytic converter to the vehicle’s frame or install an undercarriage to make it harder to access.
Police advise people not to confront thieves in the process of catalytic converter theft. Instead, watch them and write down the license plate number of the car in which they leave. Then call police and report it.

 

  

 


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