The department has joined forces with SpeeDee Oil Change to provide a free car theft security service to Tracy residents from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 6 at 711 W. Grant Line Road.
Technicians will etch vehicle license information onto a car’s catalytic converter. Sgt. Luis Mejia said Tracy Police Department hopes to discourage — or at least catch — criminals who steal the pollution-reducing parts for the metals they contain.
“We’re constantly looking for innovative ways to deter crime, and then actually (Detective) James Harries happened to locate this program while doing research,” Mejia said. “We wanted to do something that is proactive.”
Catalytic converters have been used since 1975 to reduce vehicle emissions by converting pollutants to less harmful compounds as exhaust leaves the engine.
The parts are appealing to thieves because of their precious metal content, which includes platinum and gold. They are typically sold to recycling and junk yards for $20 to $200 each.
Although the etching program is new to Tracy, it has been used in Stockton, Ripon and Sacramento, Mejia said.
Mejia said having an identification number on a catalytic converter would enable police to track down the original owner if someone tried to sell the part at a local recycling yard.
The sergeant acknowledged that catalytic converter thefts have not been frequent lately in Tracy, but he said some thefts have occurred.
SUVs and trucks are common targets, because their high clearance enables a thief to get under the vehicle, cut off the part and leave easily without notice.
Etching is free for any Tracy resident, financed by Tracy Crime Stoppers. No appointment is necessary, and the converter will remain attached to the vehicle while it is etched.
For information: 831-6628.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.