Etch and Catch Program

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Mechanic's hands using etching tool to etch identifying information on catalytic converterFolsom Police Department partners with local businesses to help prevent catalytic converter thefts. 

Catalytic converters have become a hot commodity for thieves because of their value, relative ease to steal (unbolt or cut out), and lack of identifying markings. The lack of identification makes it hard to identify victims and successfully apprehend and prosecute criminals.

Thieves take stolen catalytic converters to metal recyclers. The recyclers will pay up to $250 per converter for the precious metals inside them. Victims, however, will pay an average of $1000 (or their deductible) to replace it.

While any vehicle manufactured after 1974 can be considered a target for catalytic converter thieves, the most targeted vehicles are typically:

Trucks and SUV's - Because trucks and SUVs are higher off the ground, thieves do not need to jack the vehicle up to slide underneath and remove the catalytic converter.

Light vehicles - Lighter vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius are a target vehicle because they can be quickly jacked up off the ground to remove the catalytic converter.

Catalytic converter thieves are very quick - some have been known to steal a catalytic converter in less than two minutes. Some of the most common places that they target vehicles are:

Driveways or Streets - Catalytic converter thieves will target vehicles parked on driveways or streets, especially at night and if the driveways or street is not lit since there is less chance that they will be seen. 

Auto Dealer Lots - Auto dealer lots are targets, especially at night when thieves may target lots of vehicles in a short period of time. Some lots have reported having as many as 20 catalytic converters stolen in one night. 

Parking Lots - Large parking lots may also be targets for catalytic converter thieves. Catalytic converter thieves have been known to steal catalytic converters during the day at these locations. A look out will stand watch while another person steals the catalytic converter from the vehicle.