(ANAHEIM, Sept. 3, 2008) - As the price of precious metals continues to rise, so does the number of vehicle catalytic converter thefts, according to insurance and law enforcement data. The Anaheim Police Dept. and the Automobile Club of Southern California have joined the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force to help fight this crime with the first countywide catalytic converter VIN etching event on Sunday, Sept. 7.
While most vehicles are at risk, Anaheim Police and the Auto Club strongly urge Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and SUV and truck owners to attend since thieves target these vehicles for the easy to access converters. Converters can be sold on the auto parts black market or sold to recycling centers for the metals, including platinum and palladium.
"Etchapalooza 2008" will be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave. The free service is available from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the center's parking lot.
At the event, the last eight numbers of the VIN-Vehicle Identification Number--will be etched on the catalytic converter and coated with a brightly-colored heat-resistant paint. VIN-vehicle identification number-etching consists of marking a portion or complete unique vehicle number onto a vehicle part. The process takes about 15 minutes per vehicle.
Thieves cut or unbolt converters from the vehicle's exhaust system often in parking structures and park 'n ride lots and also at night, according to Det. Mark Blais of the Anaheim Police Dept. Auto Theft Division who confirms catalytic converter thefts are increasing. "Last year, there were at least 600 catalytic converters stolen in Orange County," said Blais. "Etching is a barrier that can prevent this equipment from being stolen and also can help in arresting and prosecuting such theft. Stealing this property is a felony," Blais added.
"VIN etching can make the converter, and possibly the vehicle, far less desirable to steal," said the Auto Club's Liability Operations Manager Dan Brogdon. "Owners are often out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for their deductible and others are out repair costs to replace this equipment."
The Auto Club also will provide drivers with anti-theft information and AAA specialists will perform free tire pressure checks, battery testing and spare key cutting.
After the event, the police dept. will contact recycling centers nationwide informing them that the marked converters are likely stolen property and should be reported to local police agencies.