“To stop the theft, we are installing the last six digits of the VIN number using high heat-resistant paint. That paint number on the catalytic converter will stop the thief if they see the number or if the thief takes the catalytic converter off the vehicle and it goes to a chop shop. The chop shop is then caught if the police invade or they are caught with a number of these kinds of converters with the numbers, they’re able to trace it back to the area that the customer lives in or the client lives in, and then they are able to press charges through that actual city” said Cassidy Tire & Service Trainer and event organizer, Melanie Ahern.
Catalytic Converters Theft on the Rise
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were over 52,000 stolen catalytic converters in 2021, three times as high as in 2020 and more than a tenfold increase from 2019.
“The precious metals inside the catalytic converters have a resale value, and then the honeycombs in the inside also have a value to companies, or not even really companies, it’s groups that crush them for drug use. So, it’s a twofold value for the theft” said Ahern.
Ahern says tattooed converters can help car owners recover the expensive car part if stolen.
It’s an issue that hits home for Cassidy Tire & Service employee Richard Freeman, who fell victim to the profitable crime, “…when my wife had a Jeep, and it was just sitting in the front side of our house. And unfortunately, at 3:30 in the morning, two individuals came out and they cut it off, and they went to go sell it at a scrap yard,” says Freeman.
Concerned car owners like Naperville resident, Gary Deckau, hope to prevent incidents like Freeman’s by having his car’s converter tattooed. “The cost to replace a catalytic converter is very expensive. So, I wanted to help protect my vehicle from that happening or at least a thief profiting from taking a kind of converter. You travel anywhere here in the Chicago suburbs, and, you know, you hear that that’s going on. So probably not a bad idea to get it done.” says Deckau.
You Can Still “Tat-A-Cat”
For Naperville residents who missed the event, Cassidy Tire & Service is still tattooing converters free of charge. Those interested can set up an appointment at their West Ogden Avenue location.
For Naperville News 17, I’m Marcel Francis.
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