Tulsa Crime Stoppers unveils new efforts to crack down on catalytic converter theft

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Crime Stoppers announced Etch to Protect, in partnership with Tulsa Police Department (TPD) and local car dealerships Bill Knight Ford, Don Thornton Volkswagen and Jackie Cooper Infiniti.

The program is the first in the state of Oklahoma to help deter and possibly prevent the theft of catalytic converters, which has affected many Tulsans.

Lt. Brad Staggs with the Tulsa Police Street Crimes Unit estimated, in Tulsa alone, there have been around 2000 catalytic converter thefts since March 2021.

Police said catalytic converters have become a hot commodity for thieves because of their value, the relative ease to steal them (unbolt or cut out) and lack of identifying markings. The lack of identification makes it hard to identify victims and successfully apprehend and prosecute criminals.

Crime Stoppers said thieves often taken stolen catalytic converters to metal recyclers. The recyclers could pay up to $250 per converter for a previous metals inside them. Victims will pay an average of $1000 (or their insurance deductible) to replace it if the dealers can find the replacement part.

While any vehicle manufactured after 1974 can be considered a target for catalytic converter thieves. Crime Stoppers provided a list of most targeted vehicles:

  • Truck and SUV’s: Because trucks and SUVs are higher off the ground. Thieves don’t need to jack the vehicle up to slide underneath and remove the catalytic converter.
  • Light vehicles: Lighter vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius are a target vehicle because they can be quickly jacked up off the ground to remove the catalytic converter.

Crime Stoppers Executive Director Karen Gilbert said, starting July 30, the technicians at Bill Knight Ford, Don Thornton Volkswagen and Jackie Cooper Infiniti will etch the vin number of the car into catalytic converters for drivers. That way, if the catalytic converter is stolen, it can be tracked.

It’s free for any car owner who signs up.

Gilbert said drivers will be able to do that starting July 23, 2022. Anyone interested can check their website.