RED BLUFF — As the theft of catalytic converters hits an all-time high, Antelope Auto Repair and the Red Bluff Police Department joined forces Saturday to etch serial numbers on catalytic converters for the public.
The public was invited to line up for free serialization of all catalytic converters.
“My wife and I have to park our four cars on the street every day and we have issues with people trying to play with our cars all the time,” customer Mike Carlson said. “This is the third car I’ve purchased to be serialized today as the store was so prompt and helpful.”
Barely two hours after the start of the event, the workshop had already serviced more than 50 vehicles. Serialization took about 2-5 minutes depending on the height of the vehicle and whether or not it needed to be lifted.
“We’ve been here at Red Bluff for a long time and the community has been really good to us, so we thought we’d give back to them,” said Daniel Thomas, the shop owner’s son. “There is a huge problem with people stealing converters. They are worth thousands of dollars and no one gets in trouble for stealing them, so we try to do our part.
Currently, there is no system that manufacturers use to serialize or track catalytic converters so that they remain unidentifiable when recovered from flights. If law enforcement cannot prove that the catalytic converter was stolen, then it is difficult to prove that a crime has been committed.
“The serialization of these catalytic converters is great because if they get cut and they have a serial number, we can trace it back to the owner and now we have a victim,” said police officer Charlie Lampron. “The person will now be in possession of stolen goods and if they try to change the serial number they can be arrested for changing it.”
Thefts of catalytic converters are so common because of the ease and speed required to steal them. Most thefts happen within minutes if the thief knows where the part is on the car and has a saw.
“Over the last four or five months we’ve seen a huge increase in thefts,” Carlson said. “Sometimes we get five reports a day that catalytic converters have been stolen. One day we caught a guy stealing a converter from the parking lot of McDonald’s at 11am”
Antelope Auto Repair does not normally offer serialization services, but does apply security plates to catalytic converters at a cost.
Melissa Joseph can be reached at 510-491-7151, [email protected] or on Twitter at @melisstweetz.