ARIZONA NEWS

Valley auto group promotes technology to combat catalytic converter thefts

Jun 8, 2022, 4:45 AM
This photo provided by the Phoenix Police Department shows stolen catalytic converters that were re...

This photo provided by the Phoenix Police Department shows stolen catalytic converters that were recoverd after detectives served a search warrant at a storage unit in Phoenix on Thursday, May 27, 2022. The bust came amid a national surge in thefts of the pricy auto parts that play a critical in reducing vehicle emissions and has led lawmakers in 36 states and in Washington D.C. to consider new laws to address the problem. (Phoenix Police Department via AP)

(Phoenix Police Department via AP)

PHOENIX — Catalytic converter thefts are growing in the Valley and an auto group is hoping to help combat the problem by promoting technology that can track the component.

Jason Church, the chief operating officer of Courtesy Automotive Group, which has multiple dealerships around the Valley, said catalytic converter thefts were up 6,500% in 2021 from 2020.

“We’re seeing in Phoenix a staggering increase in theft of converters,” Church said.

Catalytic converters are being stolen from cars for the valuable metals used to make them.

Phoenix police arrested a man several weeks ago after they found 1,200 catalytic converters in a storage unit, many believed to be stolen.

When something like this happens, Church said police encounter a problem.

“When these catalytic converters are stolen … when the police find them, there’s no way for them to be able to tie it back to the vehicle it was stolen from,” he said.

A possible solution to that issue is SafeCat, a tag that tracks a catalytic converter back to the original vehicle.

“It’s a code that goes on your catalytic converter,” Church said. “It actually gets etched in as well, so it’s non-removable.”

The SafeCat tag is put into a database and linked to the car’s VIN number.

Courtesy dealerships are offering an installation of a SafeCat tag for free this week, either by appointment or with normal service.

Having a catalytic converter tagged may not help victims in the immediate aftermath of its theft as the average cost to replace the stolen component is between $1,000 to $3,000, not to mention the inconvenience of getting a repair.

However, Church hopes measures like this will help in the long term.

“It’ll really give [police] a tool,” Church said. “[Because] they can look at this database and connect the stolen catalytic converter back to the car. That will give us more teeth in terms of prosecuting and help prevent this kind of theft.”

Courtesy Automotive Group’s SafeCat promotion runs while supplies last.

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Valley auto group promotes technology to combat catalytic converter thefts