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DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department, in conjunction with Lincoln Tech School in Denver, are etching serial numbers on catalytic converters on cars to help prevent thieves from taking them.

Denver police are calling it an epidemic. Thieves have been targeting catalytic converters and selling them to scrap yards. It is relatively easy and fairly safe for thieves because there is no way to track the stolen converters, until now.

In 2020, 30 catalytic converters were stolen from District 5. In 2021, 160 have been reported stolen.

 “And we are only halfway through the year,” said Denver Police Officer Danae Ferencz, a community resource officer.

What exactly is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter removes the harmful emissions from the exhaust to help keep the air and exhaust clean. It is located underneath the car, in line with the exhaust pipe.

It is the metals on the inside that thieves are looking to grab.

“Catalytic converters are made of precious metals like platinum so, cut it off, take it to a scrapyard and get a couple hundred bucks for that,” said Ferencz.

Unless there is an ID number and orange paint on it. That tells the bad guys to bug off.

Lincoln Tech School will be etching and painting the catalytic converters of 300 cars, free of charge, to help take a bite out of this crime.

If you can’t make it to the school, Denver police say do it yourself by etching the last eight digits of your car’s VIN number on your catalytic converter, give it a spray of orange paint, and keep those bad guys away.