Here's how Livermore PD is eliminating catalytic converter theft, one etching at a time

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Here's how Livermore PD is eliminating catalytic converter theft
The Livermore Police Department is working to fight back against catalytic converter theft partnering with Las Positas College.

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Livermore Police Department is working to fight back against catalytic converter theft.

They've partnered with the Automotive Department at Las Positas College to offer free catalytic converter etching all day on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The goal is to make it easier for police to track stolen converters and discourage thieves from taking them in the first place.

"As the college, we like to do it because as a service to the community, but not only that, for my students, I like to do it because it shows them what it's like to work in a real life shop," Brian Hagopian, the Automotive Technology Program Coordinator at Las Positas College said.

Students are etching catalytic converters with a unique identification number, making them less attractive to thieves and easier to trace, if stolen.

"That's one of the things with these catalytic converter thefts is that we as police officers will recover lets say a trunk of catalytic converters and there's no serial number on them or anything to tie them to who the rightful owner is, so this gives us something to follow up on," Officer Taylor Burruss, a spokesperson for the Livermore Police Department said.

Burruss says this is the fifth time they've hosted this event free for all community members since 2022 with around 300 cars coming through each time.

And since then, the Livermore Police Department says its working.

They say, in 2022, the first year they started this program, the city had nearly 300 reported converter thefts.

MORE: Etching catalytic converters? Here's one Bay Area city's possible solution to thefts

Livermore police partnered with Las Positas College to offer a free Etch and Catch event on Tuesday to help deter catalytic converter thefts.

Last year, was almost two thirds less, at 91 thefts.

And the numbers this year are on track to make 2024 the lowest on record, with just eight reported thefts so far.

"In our perspective of that, is that yeah, this is actually working as a visual deterrent, because when someone crawls underneath a vehicle, the hope is that they're going to start knowing that it has that badge on there and that it's trackable and not worth messing with," Burruss said.

And the program has already come full circle.

MORE: New California laws make it harder to steal and sell catalytic converters

With Livermore Police on the receiving end of calls from other departments where their etched converters stamped with the police seal have been recovered.

Hagopian says this is what makes it all worth it.

"Everyone cheered and they were all happy and kind of encouraged them," Hagopian said. "This for them, is kind of another day in the shop, so to speak, so when they hear stories like that, they're happy that they're making a positive change in the world."

VIDEO: Brazen videos capture Bay Area catalytic converter thieves in the act

New cell phone videos taken by car owners and bystanders illustrate the bold act of stealing catalytic converters in the Bay Area.

Drivers have until 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to get in line to get this done.

If you missed this event, Livermore Police and Las Positas College are hoping to do it again in early May before students leave for summer break.

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