LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- Livermore police are working to gain an upper hand on catalytic converter theft.
They've partnered with Las Positas College's Automotive Technology Department to offer a free Etch and Catch event for drivers in the East Bay on Tuesday.
"I can't afford a new car, I can't afford to replace the catalytic converter if it was taken!" Mary Gonzalez, a driver from Livermore said.
According to the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, about 1,600 catalytic converters are stolen across the state every month.
"We're using little sort of etching, hand-held etchers to be able to put their license plate on there and then we're stenciling the Livermore Police Department badge on there, maybe act as a deterrent to any would-be thieves," James Weston, a lab technician and part-time faculty at Las Positas College said.
Las Positas college students in the Automotive Technology Dept., volunteering for extra credit at the end of their semester, are doing to the work for no extra charge.
And while Livermore police hope this will serve as a deterrent, it's also a major investigative tool for them.
"Makes it a little more identifiable for us so that if we do stop somebody in a vehicle for having a catalytic converter, we can actually track that to the rightful owner," officer Taylor Burruss with the Livermore Police Dept. said.
Leaving drivers like Gonzalez with a little more peace of mind, when it comes to parking her Prius outside at night.
"For me, this is a comfort because every morning I go out there and start my car because I have a Prius, and I just never know because I'm in a carport, so it's easy access," Gonzalez said.
Officer Burruss says if the event goes well, they are planning to do a second 'Etch and Catch' sometime in early Feb.
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