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New South Coast Program Hoping To Prevent Vehicle Catalytic Converter Thefts

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They’re a little known, but an important part of your car, SUV, or truck.  Catalytic converters reduce your vehicle’s air pollution.  But, they contain valuable metals which make them a big target for thieves.  A new program on the South Coast is trying to tackle that problem.

Will Rafiq is with Hi-Tech Auto, in Moorpark.   He says they replace several stolen converters a month.

Thieves literally crawl under vehicles, and cut off the catalytic converters.  They can get up to $200 a converter from scrap metal dealers.  The recyclers remove the valuable metals, which can go for thousands of dollars an ounce.

Moorpark has had a number of the thefts.  Police say the recently caught a half dozen of the converter thieves in the city, complete with tools and stolen converters in their vehicle.

But, the Moorpark Police Department decided it wanted to take a more proactive approach, to discourage the thefts.  Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Senior Deputy Becky Purnell says they teamed up with some auto repair shops, body shops, and oil change businesses to create what’s called the “Etch and Catch” campaign.  

The effort calls for the license plate number of the vehcile to be etched in the converter.  And, the Sheriff's Office star will be painted on it.

Rafiq says they’ve already booked some vehicles for the free anti-theft program.  The work takes about 15 minutes.  Rafiq says he’s excited to help.

For now, the free program is only available in Moorpark, but other agencies in the region are working on similar efforts.  

Here are the participating businessses in Moorpark:

Andy’s Automotive (805) 529-6666, Chris’ Auto Connection (805) 523-9350, Dave’s Auto Repair (805) 523-7113, Elite Auto Repair (805) 529-9100, Fix Auto (805) 552-4205, Hi-Tech Auto (805) 529-8800, Jiffy Lube (805) 523-1100, Moorpark Auto Collision (805) 529-6227, Recon to Go Auto Collision Repair (818) 674-2452