Santa Monica and other surrounding communities continue to see an increase in catalytic converter thefts. As an effort to deter theft and educate the community, the Santa Monica Police Department will partner with Firestone Complete Auto Care and host a free catalytic converter etching event where vehicle license plate numbers will be etched onto the heat shield of the participants’ catalytic converters.

What: SMPD Etch & Catch

Who: Forty Santa Monica residents have secured a reservation

When: Wednesday, March 10, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Firestone Complete Auto Care, 1817 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, CA.

What is a catalytic converter and why would someone want to steal one? Catalytic converters are a crucial component of a car’s exhaust system. They’re located under the car and attached to the exhaust pipe, typically with bolts. The catalytic converter is designed to reduce the toxicity of emissions from a vehicle’s engine. Catalytic converters are valuable to scrap metal dealers, in part, because they contain precious metals, including rhodium, platinum and palladium. Etching a converter may deter theft.

Catalytic converters do not have unique serial numbers or identifiable markings, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to return the property to the owner when suspects are arrested with these stolen vehicle parts in their possession. The presence of license plate numbers on catalytic converters can provide police with the information needed to identify stolen property, contact victims, and apprehend/prosecute criminals. This program is open to those who live or work in Santa Monica and while specific vehicles are targeted by thieves, all makes and models are eligible for the program.

Lieutenant Rudy Flores