Automotive Repair Businesses Provide Free Catalytic Converter Engraving

Automotive Repair Businesses Provide Free Catalytic Converter Engraving

The Alameda Police Department’s (APD) Community Resource Unit (CRU) has partnered with local businesses to serialize catalytic converters for free.

In partnership with Jerry’s Tire and Auto Center, Royal Auto, Alameda Auto Lab, Fred’s Wrenchouse, Fink’s Automotive, and Fix Auto, this free service is by appointment only.

After posting the service on their Facebook page Monday, May 23, APD said they reserved all available appointments for the service. APD did say, however, that they plan on making appointments for future dates.

“We’d like to thank all six of the participating automotive centers who are taking the time out of their busy schedules to help make Alameda a safer place to live, work, and play,” wrote APD in a Facebook Post.

At the March 16 City Council meeting, council asked staff to identify programs to prevent and deter catalytic converter thefts. Staff recommended holding a catalytic converter etching event. This can be done in collaboration with one of our 40 local automotive repair shops who can place identifying marks on catalytic converters free of charge such as a VIN number.

Other options included provide rebates to residents that place a converter theft prevention device, start a marketing campaign informing residents how to not be a victim to converter theft, and request proposals from local automotive repair shops that wish to be rewarded contracts to install anti-theft devices on converters for alameda residents.

At the time, councilmembers wanted to start a marketing campaign but were on the fence about suggesting residents install an anti-theft device. The council decided to revisit the topic at a later date.

Catalytic converter thefts have been a major problem in Alameda, (“Mayor’s Message on Thefts and Public Safety,” Feb. 3). To learn more, visit APD’s Facebook page.



Editor’s note: This letter was also sent to California AG Rob Bonta’s office.

Attorney General Rob Bonta:
In response to the Alameda Sun article, (“Automotive Repair Businesses Provide Free Catalytic Converter Engraving,” May 26), my husband and I own a 2011 and a 2005 Toyota Prius. We recently had to have the catalytic converter replaced — for the second time — in the older Prius due to theft, despite having a locking cable installed after the first replacement. The car was parked curbside outside our home in Alameda on a fairly busy residential street (Third Street just off Lincoln).

Per a neighbor’s report to the Alameda Police Department (APD), at around 9 a.m. on a Friday morning (the time for our weekly garbage collection), four men had the car jacked up and were using a power saw to cut through the cable and attachment bolts. The neighbors photographed the license plate of the fleeing vehicle, but the APD officer was pretty pessimistic of tracking the criminals through the plate. Though only half the converter was stolen, we still had to replace the whole unit at a cost of more than $3000.

Since the scrap value of most converters is under $950, converter thieves know that at worst they’ll get charged with a misdemeanor and six months in prison (versus three years for grand theft auto). Why steal a car, especially one more than 15 years old, when in less than a few minutes you can steal an easily transportable $900 part?
I encourage your office to take the following steps to address this growing problem.

My suggestions:
1) Base criminal penalties on the cost of replacement — and on the damage done during the theft — rather than on the scrap value of the part stolen. (A prior converter theft attempt was thwarted by the locking cable but in trying to cut the cable the thieves cut a sensor that had to be repaired.) In other words, elevate converter theft to be on par with auto theft.
2) Raise public awareness regarding how to safely interrupt converter thefts and how to best photograph and report such incidents to the police.
3) Crack down on the trade in (stolen) parts.
4) Support development of more effective converter theft prevention, alarm, and tracing systems.
Thank you,


(This letter was sent to AG Rob Bonta's office.)