PHOENIX — There's a rapidly growing trend in the Valley of thieves stealing catalytic converters from cars. The City of Tempe teamed up with Maricopa County to keep you from becoming a target.
"I'm getting my catalytic converter etched, we've just felt kind of unsafe, we've heard a lot of stories from our friends and families, so this is just a preventative measure that happens to be free," one car owner said.
Many drivers took advantage of another etching event Sunday out at Midas Auto and Tires in Tempe to deter thieves from cutting off the parts.
Midas Owner and Operator Nick Maselli explained that employees tagged the converters with the VIN and plate number plus sprayed them with orange paint.
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"It's a marking so that way if someone gets caught with it, you'll be able to identify it. If someone decides to go under the vehicle hopefully they’ll see that's colored and they'll stay away from it," he said.
Tempe Police Sgt. Hector Encinas said this sort of community call to action will hopefully help car owners sidestep this crime.
"Hey, this does not belong to this person, this is in fact stolen, so we're going to see better and stronger cases and better enforcement to stop this problem from occurring," Encinas said.
It's a problem countywide which is why the Maricopa County Attorney's Office is on board with such efforts.
"We have people that are supporting their fentanyl addictions by stealing catalytic converters and they sell them because they have desired materials inside and then it leaves the person with 10 times the cost to repair their vehicle," Rachel Mitchell explained.
Authorities reported 4,700 thefts last year, a 6,000% increase from 2019.
"It's on pace to beat even last year, so it is an increasing problem, as County Attorney I want to put a stop to this, it's really disrupting people's lives," Mitchell added.
Tempe Police say they may host more events like this in the future, but they're hopeful this specific crime will decrease over time, with efforts like this in place.
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