Colorado Starts Nation’s First Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft Program
AAA, law enforcement join in first-of-its kind partnership to fight car, catalytic converter theft ~
SHERIDAN, Colo. (July 1, 2021) – AAA Colorado has joined with the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) and other key state and law enforcement partners in a first-of-its-kind partnership to give Coloradans free devices to stop automotive theft.
Car theft and related crimes are surging to historic levels in Colorado, per data from CATPA. Some jurisdictions report a 1000 percent increase in catalytic converter theft over 2019, while overall automotive theft is up 57 percent over 2020. All told, should these trends continue, Colorado will verge on twice the national per capita theft rate by the end of the year.
“It’s no secret that having a car stolen or disabled by thieves carries devastating effects for Coloradans and their families,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “What’s more, vehicles are commonly stolen to commit other crimes. Protecting against auto theft protects our communities, plain and simple.”
Per Colorado State Patrol data, 151 stolen catalytic converters were reported to Colorado law enforcement agencies in 2019. In 2020, that number jumped to 930 – an increase of 520 percent.
In 2021, year-to-date , a total of 2485 Coloradans have had their catalytic converter stolen – a 1556 percent increase over 2019 with fully half of the year still ahead.
Fighting Catalytic Converter Theft
Catalytic converter theft is skyrocketing in Colorado and across the country because of a lucrative black market for the precious metals that converters contain. These devices, which help control exhaust emissions, commonly cost well over $1000 to replace. They’re also an attractive target to thieves: They’re easily removed from vehicles, and they’re not equipped with serial or VIN numbers.
Through its network of more than 150 Approved Automotive Repair facilities across Colorado, AAA will apply a non-removable, chemically etched identification number to catalytic converters on vehicles brought in for regular repair or maintenance. Those serial numbers will then be entered into a theft prevention database – searchable by law enforcement, salvage yards, and recyclers – to ensure the catalytic converter isn’t stolen. The installation process takes only a few minutes, and the vehicles will also be equipped with window stickers to warn would-be-thieves of the new theft deterrent.
“As Colorado’s largest membership-based, not-for-profit organization, we think it’s our job to help Coloradans get around safely, however they choose,” said Skyler McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA. “That’s what we’ve done since 1922 and, facing new challenges nearly a century later, we’re thrilled to rise to the occasion to serve Colorado by fighting against auto theft.”
Motorists can visit AAA.com/StopTheft to learn more about how to receive this free service.
Engine Immobilizers – Sheridan
For folks who live in Sheridan, Colo., and drive an eligible vehicle, AAA will, at no cost to the driver, install an engine immobilizer – an electronic device that arms automatically when the vehicle is switched off. These devices make it impossible to start a vehicle unless the authorized key is present, and work on all passenger vehicles and trucks.
“The best way to fight the effects of automotive theft is to make sure a car can never be stolen, period,” said Jeffrey Martinez, chief of the Sheridan Police Department. “We’re proud to help protect those who need it most through this new partnership.”
Motorists can determine their eligibility and arrange for a free installation at AAA.com/ProtectSheridan. No additional automotive service is required.
These programs, and more, are funded by the Colorado Automobile Theft Prevention Authority. Learn more, here.