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Lebanon Police Department launches Etch and Catch program to catch catalytic converter thieves

Lebanon Police department and car shops are partnering up to stop catalytic converter thefts through the Etch and Catch program.
Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 7:08 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -Lebanon Police department and car shops are partnering up to stop catalytic converter thefts through the Etch and Catch program.

Sargent Kacie Springer says that last year the Lebanon Police department had at least one catalytic converter theft per week in 2021. They are now partnering with several auto repair shops to prevent more thefts.

“It’s a devastating thing to come out to your car in the morning and figure out someone took a $1,500 to $2,000 piece of part off your car,” said Big O’ Tires Manager Wyatt Danuser. It’s kind of hard to replace that. We want to help people the best we can and be here for the community.”

A catalytic converter is part of the vehicle’s exhaust system and it helps reduce vehicle pollution. Catalytic converters are located under a vehicle on the exhaust pipe, before the muffler. Catalytic converters are usually used with internal combustion engines fueled by gasoline or diesel fuel. Catalytic converters have precious metals inside that have become a hot commodity for thieves. Catalytic converter theft has become popular because of their value, relative ease to steal and their lack of identifying markings. The lack of identification makes it difficult to identify victims and successfully apprehend and prosecute criminals.

Sargent Springer says that Chief Brian Arnold began working with a police department on the west coast that created a similar program. She says that the department has seen success and police have been able to track thefts easier.

“We use an etching tool to draw the license plate number on the catalytic converter then we’ll spray paint over so it’ll be there permanently,” said Danuser. “That way when they take it to the junkyard they can see what license plate was.”

WHAT IF YOUR CATALYTIC CONVERTER IS STOLEN?

  • If your catalytic converter is stolen, you will know right away when you start your vehicle. It will sound like you do not have a muffler at all (like loud motorcycle mufflers). It is okay to drive your vehicle directly to a muffler/dealer shop to get the catalytic converter replaced. You DO NOT need your vehicle towed to the shop.
  • File a police report right away. There might have been other thefts in the area that will assist with the investigation. Provide the officer with the information regarding your etched catalytic converter so your license plate number can be entered into the statewide database.

For a list of participating businesses CLICK HERE.

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