Anti-Theft Program Seeks To Curb Rash Of Catalytic Converter Thefts

4 April 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A crime that can take seconds to pull off can cause drivers trouble for months. Catalytic converter thefts are surging across the Twin Cities. Now, a new program hopes to protect car owners against a costly repair.

Last year in Brooklyn Park, police reported 45 catalytic converter thefts at this point last spring. This year’s figure, so far, stands at 104 cases.

“It’s way up and it’s been going up year after year,” said Mark Bruley, Deputy Chief for Brooklyn Park Police.

Early Sunday morning, a Brooklyn Park homeowner called police to report suspicious activity in their driveway. When an officer arrived two men fled the scene, leading to a chase.

“So here they pit the vehicle. You are going to see the vehicle tries to flee again but officers are going to do a good job of just stopping it,” said Bruley, while looking at the dash cam video.

The suspects left a gun on the homeowner’s driveway and were found with tools used for stealing catalytic converters.

“It’s everyday people calling in and saying hey, got in my car this morning and my catalytic converter is gone,” said Bruley.

To try and help police catch thieves, the Department of Commerce recently launched the CatGuard program.

“It’s the first thing I’ve seen that actually makes sense,” said Branden Lewis of Golden Valley Tire and Service.

Lewis’s business is one of 10 participating. The state has identified 15 of the most targeted vehicles for catalytic converter thefts. If you have a vehicle on the list, like a Toyota Prius, the service station puts a sticker on your catalytic converter.

“And there’s a layer of acid that gets put over the numbers and it etches the numbers into the catalytic converter,” said Lewis.

That way, even if the sticker is removed, information about who it belongs to remains. Numbers and a QR Code, which only police can access, give the real owner’s information.

Golden Valley Tire and Service is trying to push this program forward, so they’re not requiring a service appointment to get your catalytic converter marked.

Right now, the state is paying for it. And the entire process takes about five minutes.

“It’s a deterrent but it’s a great way for police to be able to track catalytic converter theft,” said Lewis.

Bruley said the program won’t stop all thefts, but it should help.

“It’s a good initiative. It’s a good start. We just need to keep the throttle moving forward,” said Bruley.

Bruley said the community and police need to keep working together to help deter thieves.

To find out if your car qualifies for a sticker, and a list of participating body shops, click here.

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