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"Etch and Catch" against catalytic converter thefts


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  • "Etch and Catch" against catalytic converter thefts

    I just found out about this today. Several agencies in Sacramento and Placer Counties in CA (and now Lenexa, KS) are using it. Rocklin PD has really turned their program into a Good Thing:
    We now pick a non-profit organization from the Placer County area to sponsor. Our sponsors donate items to the Etch and Catch event and while you wait for your vehicle, you have the opportunity to buy tickets for a drawing. Some of our sponsors have made direct donations to the non-profit organization. All the proceeds from the drawing go directly to the local non-profit organization in support of their needs and services.
    <http://www.etchrocklin.com> twothumbz.gif

    Scrap metal prices went down last year, and are expected to decline further during 2015, but reports of thefts are still showing up in the local newspaper.
    I also found out that there are at least two companies, one in the US and one in the UK, that make kits to secure a converter to the vehicle. One of those companies also makes the etching kits. I know some vehicle owners have had a cage made to go around the converter and welded the cage to the vehicle.

    Whatever works to keep thieving hands off of other people's stuff.
    Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

  • #2
    That's a great idea! On top of all the other regulatory requirements on scrap metal businesses this is one that'll be more user friendly, IMO.

    A lot of innocent people have been duped by this. Especially businesses. They'll use cordless sawz-alls and have the converter off in seconds. We've had issues in the past at a local Mall where guys were busted actually sawing converters off cars while the owners were in the Mall.


    • #3
      Yep. Back in '08, when metal prices were way higher, two mopes got loose in the main parking lot at Bath Iron Works with a battery 'cip saw. Observers said that when the day shift ended, it "sounded like NASCAR" as Toyota pickups started up.

      The suspects had been chased away from the metal dumpster at a Subaru dealership in a nearby town that morning, and they were driving a Toyota pickup. I've forgotten how the two incidents were linked that day, or if the vehicle description had even come up yet, but a Plant Protection officer working the main gate called a whole lot of recyclers to ask them to BOLO for somebody coming in with a bunch of converters. (I think it was a year before Scrap Theft Alert began.) Awhile later, she got a call from a scrapyard almost 60 miles away. The thieves got a ride to jail, but good catches like that are usually a matter of luck.

      One of the manufacturers of the locking devices I mentioned above did some testing, and found that somebody reasonably skilled with a saw could remove a converter in about 15 seconds.

      I also read something today that said in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, they've been having a helluva time with thefts of snowplows. Often the entire truck disappears, and is found later with the plow, wiring, etc. missing. In one case, the GPS tracker on the truck might have shown where the truck sat for about a half-hour while the plow gear was removed, probably with plasma cutters. Sometimes even a fence doesn't keep thieves out and vehicles in:
      Two days before Ladd's truck was stolen, Van Sessen had one stolen from his firm. Thieves climbed a barbed-wired topped fence, hot-wired a dump truck and drove it through the fence.

      After destroying the fence, they came back for a plow truck. They found a plow and a truck, but Van Sessen wasn't sure if they just loaded the plow on the truck or actually mounted it on the truck. They broke into several buildings and vehicles looking for remote controls to operate the plow, but, after being unable to find it, they drove off.

      There was about $4,000 in damage to the fence and he lost a $7,000 plow and a $10,000 truck.

      Some thief could end up with a beatin' if he got caught at the wrong place.
      Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"


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