Etch and Catch Program

WHAT IS THE LEBANON POLICE DEPARTMENT DOING TO COMBAT CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT?

The Lebanon Police Department has teamed up with several local automotive businesses to provide FREE ETCHING AND PAINTING OF YOUR CATALYTIC CONVERTER. Go to a participating business and with any paid service that requires your vehicle to be lifted on a rack, you can request to have your catalytic converter etched with your vehicle's license plate number and painted with a heat resistant, brightly colored spray paint FOR FREE.

WHAT IS A CATALYTIC CONVERTER?

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(s). Catalytic converters are usually used with internal combustion engines fueled by gasoline or diesel fuel. Catalytic converters; with copper, platinum, or other metals inside, have become a hot commodity for thieves. Catalytic converter theft has becomeetch and catch 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.

WHAT VEHICLES HAVE A CATALYTIC CONVERTER?

Any gas or diesel powered/low emission vehicle manufactured after 1974 has a catalytic converter(s). Some vehicle's catalytic converters are harder to access, but they all have at least one.

WHAT IF YOUR CATALYTIC CONVERTER IS STOLEN?

  1. 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).
    1. It is okay to drive your vehicle directly to a muffler/dealer shop to get the catalytic converter replaced.
    2. You DO NOT need your vehicle towed to the shop. 
  2. File a police report right away. There might have been other thefts in the area that will assist with the investigation.
    1. Provide the officer with the information regarding your etched catalytic converter so your license plate number can be entered into the statewide database.

CAN I PREVENT A CATALYTIC CONVERTER FROM BEING STOLEN?

NO. The phrase where there is a will, there is a way is applicable here. However, there are ways to deter a thief from stealing your catalytic converter.

  1. ETCH YOUR CATALYTIC CONVERTER.
    1. Etch your catalytic converter. By etching the license plate number, also known as an Owner Applied Number (OAN) for your vehicle onto the catalytic converter, it will be associated with your vehicle. Even if you change the license plate number to your vehicle to a personalized license plate, the old plate number will be associated with your vehicle.
    2. An OAN is like applying your own personal serial number to an item; in this case, your license plate is the OAN. If your catalytic converter is stolen, you can advise the officer of the OAN and your stolen property can now be entered into a statewide database for stolen property. Without a serial number or OAN, the property is unidentifiable and locating a victim and/or successfully prosecuting a thief is nearly impossible.
  2. PAINT YOUR CATALYTIC CONVERTER.
    1. Spray painting your catalytic converter with a heat resistant, brightly colored paint will make it more difficult for a thief to sell.
    2. It will be much easier for the police to spot and begin an investigation.
  3. PARK YOUR VEHICLE IN A SECURE AREA; SUCH AS YOUR GARAGE, A SECURE PARKING GARAGE, OR OTHER WELL LIT AREAS.
    1. If you must park your vehicle in the driveway, motion detector lights or continuous lights illuminating your driveway may be a deterrent.
    2. Video surveillance cameras can serve as a deterrent.
    3. Getting a vehicle motion detector alarm may help.
  4. WELD A PIECE OF REBAR ONTO THE CATALYTIC CONVERTER.
    1. This will not prevent the theft from occurring, if the thief has the right tools for the job. However, it makes it more difficult for the thief to steal.
  5. SPOT WELD ANY BOLTS THAT ATTACH A CATALYTIC CONVERTER TO THE EXHAUST SYSTEM.
    1. Most catalytic converters are connected to the exhaust system in an area that is difficult to reach. Thus, thieves cut the catalytic converters and remove them from the vehicle. However, there are some brands of vehicles where the bolts are exposed. These vehicles commonly have plenty of room under the vehicle for a thief to access the bolts and steal the catalytic converter without having to cut it. It is not uncommon for a victim with this type of vehicle to find their catalytic converter missing and the bolts lying on the ground, under the vehicle.
    2. Some examples of these vehicles are SUVs and trucks, especially late-model Toyotas, because they sit higher off the ground (making for easier access) and the bolts that connect the converter are easily removed. Nissans SUVs and pickups are targeted as well.

Etching and spray painting your catalytic converter in a manner that is highly visible to a thief is the least expensive way to deter a thief.

PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES