Police to Launch Operation: Etch & Catch to Combat Catalytic Converter Thefts

The Takoma Park Police Department is partnering with RS Automotive & Lowe’s to launch Operation: Etch & Catch, a new initiative designed to combat catalytic converter thefts.

Public Information Officer Cathy Plevy appeared on Takoma Radio last week to announce the new program, which involves etching license plate numbers in catalytic converters, in an effort to get the expensive units back to their owners in the event that they are stolen.

There have been multiple thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles in Takoma Park in recent months. “Hybrid cars, such as the Prius, are targeted by thieves because they have two power sources – an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine – so their catalytic converters are used less frequently to process pollutants,” Plevy said via email last June. “This means the metals inside them are less likely to corrode, so they’re more valuable and therefore more desirable to thieves.”

Thieves often target catalytic converters for the platinum contained inside. Sprott, a precious metals investor, said in March that platinum prices increased 90% between March 2020 and March 2021, as demand far outstripped supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police departments in cities around the country have been launching Operation: Etch & Catch campaigns in recent months, including Hampton, Va., Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, Calif. They are looking to launch the program in Takoma Park in late September or early October, Plevy said.

Graphic courtesy Takoma Park Police

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