The theft of catalytic converters has been a problem for a long time - for both vehicle owners and law enforcement - especially in the Northland.  A new initiative aims to do something about it.

Because these car parts contain precious metals like platinum and rhodium, catalytic converters hold a value on the black market as scarp, which makes the inviting to thieves.  Unsuspecting vehicle owners are often not aware that they've been the victim of the crime until long after the fact; and that catalytic converter theft is costly to the victim, as replacement costs can cost an "average of $1,000" or more.

In the Northland, catalytic converter theft is on the rise. According to details released by the Duluth Police Department, they fielded "approximately a dozen" reports of these sort of thefts in the period between September 1 to October 13 - a month and a half.

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To combat the issue head-on, the Duluth Police Department has announced their Catalytic Converter Initiative. Working in conjunction with a variety of auto repair shops in the Northland, an identification kit is used to mark the catalytic converter on your vehicle with an identification number.

The hope is that this ID number and marking will deter the thefts.  Duluth Police Auto Theft Investigator Ben Nordskog explains that "[t]he goal is that once a thief notices that your catalytic converter is marked, they won't steal it".  There's also an after benefit, too.  "If the thief does steak it, this identification mark allows us to like the ID number with the cars VIN number, letting us track the converter".

The Duluth Police Department's Catalytic Converter Initiative is a grant funded program. There is no cost to the vehicle owner.

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Taking part in the program and getting your catalytic converter marked is easy.  Three Duluth-based auto repair shops are involved with the program right now:  4th Street Auto, Thompson's T-Express, and Allstar Service Center.  To have your catalytic converter marked, the Duluth Police explain that all you need to do is ask the shop to mark your converter when getting your vehicle serviced there.  Again, there is no cost to you and it won't damage your vehicle in any way.

So what about the ID labels?  In the process, two "ultra-destruct" labels are attached to the catalytic converter - each containing a unique code and the URL of a secure, accredited database.  If a thief tries to remove the labels, they'll break into pieces during the attempt.  Additionally, a fluid etches into the metal so that even if they were totally removed, the ID code and the URL remain clearly visible.

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For more details about the Duluth Police Department's Catalytic Converter Initiative, click here.

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