San Jose police announce new method to stop thefts of valuable auto parts

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SAN JOSE (KRON) — The San Jose Police Department on Monday announced a new program to deter catalytic converter thefts, which have been on the rise in the Bay Area.

American catalytic converters, located under cars, have contained rhodium, a precious metal, since the mid-1970s. Often thieves try to steal the converter for the rhodium. The device is intended to clean pollutants and prevent them from entering the atmosphere.

Just last week, KRON4 reported (https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/concord-police-looking-for-alleged-thieves-targeting-cars-who-shot-victim/ ) multiple suspects who allegedly shot a car owner in the East Bay town of Concord as they attempted to steal his catalytic converter.

The program, called Etch and Protect, is a collaboration between the police department and the San Jose Police Foundation. Auto mechanics were enlisted to engrave vehicle license plate numbers and other identifying information on catalytic converters for free during routine vehicle maintenance.

“The San Jose Police Foundation will purchase paint and etching supplies for auto mechanics,” a press release said Monday. “Placing identifying information on a catalytic converter deters thieves. It also makes it more difficult for them to recycle the catalytic converter.

The press release notes that thefts of catalytic converters “are on the rise across the country”, and the lack of identifying markings – as well as their value and “the is with which converters can be stolen” – make them ripe targets.

The auto part can be traded with metal recyclers for up to several hundred dollars. However, replacing the part can cost upwards of $1,000.

“We are very grateful to the participating auto repair shops for their partnership in supporting this important program,” said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata. “We hope this effort will deter catalytic converter theft, which has a serious impact on our local community.”

Capitol Honda at 745 Capitol Expressway, Speedee-Midas at 1825 E. Capitol Expressway and Stevens Creek Toyota at 4202 Stevens Creek Boulevard are all already participating.

The San Jose Police Department recommends the following steps to prevent catalytic converter thefts:

  • “Park your vehicle inside your garage or in a secure side yard,
  • If you must park outside, leave exterior lights on or install motion detectors.
  • Get your catalytic converter engraved with your license plate number. San Jose’s Etch and Protect program partners and Catch Department will provide a free engraving of your license plate number on your catalytic converter while they perform other maintenance on your vehicle and have the car on a drawbridge.
  • Install a cage around your catalytic converter or have additional metal welded to your exhaust system. This makes it harder for thieves to remove the catalytic converter.
  • Report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood. If you see a crime in progress, dial 9-1-1. Call 408-277-8900 to report suspicious activity.
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