NEW YORK (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) joined members of law enforcement Thursday to announce a new initiative to combat the surge in catalytic converter thefts taking place statewide.
According to the DMV, there will be a new process that allows auto dealers to etch a traceable serial number onto the catalytic converter. The serial number then can be quickly linked back to the vehicle it was stolen from.
Those who have questions about the etching kits should contact their local auto dealer association. In Western New York it is the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) at 716-631-8510.
You can watch the video clip attached to see NYPD Detective Thomas Burke apply a serial number easily to two catalytic converters.
Catalytic converters are attached to vehicle mufflers and use precious metals to convert toxic engine exhaust to less harmful gasses. The value of those precious metals has made catalytic converters a hot commodity with a street value of $200 to $500.
The program, Who Let The Cats Out, was started by NYPD Detective Maureen Stefenelli.
According to the DMV, over the past three years, some areas of the state have seen catalytic converter thefts increase up to 200 percent per year and one of the main targets has been new car dealerships. The catalytic converters are expensive to replace and the theft can also cause further damage to the vehicle.
“New car dealers have been hit particularly hard by these thefts. In addition to the cost to replace the stolen parts, these thefts often result in thousands of dollars in additional damage to the vehicle, which means a dealer has to wait to sell the vehicle or a new car buyer has to wait significantly longer to receive their vehicle. We are happy to help get etching kits into the hands of dealers to help them fight the scourge of catalytic converter thefts."
“Automobile dealers realize catalytic converter theft is one of the fastest growing crimes across the nation. Prevention, awareness, and education is needed because this crime impacts every vehicle owner. This silent theft creates with an enormous replacement expense for owners, causes serious safety consequences and generates major consumer inconvenience to replace, so the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association (NFADA) applaud the strong efforts of NYS DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder and this task force to address and curb this growing issue. NFADA and our WNY dealers are happy to assist this task force and help be part of any solution to prevent future catalytic crimes.”