FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tracy Walker – Richmond Police Department
Lt. Matt Pecka – Henrico County Police Division
Community call to action to help crackdown on theft of vehicle parts
Richmond, VA, October 19, 2022 — As catalytic converter thefts rise in central Virginia, law enforcement agencies are partnering with local stakeholders to help combat this crime. Midas Auto Repair stores of Richmond, NAPA Auto Parts, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are assisting law enforcement in launching operation "Catalytic Converter Crackdown (CCC)." The operation is designed to deter thieves from stealing catalytic converters from vehicles.
The law enforcement agencies hosting the regional effort include:
- Chesterfield County Police Department
- Colonial Heights Police Department
- Hanover County Sheriff’s Office
- Henrico County Police Division
- Richmond Police Department
- University of Richmond Police Department
- Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department
- Virginia State Police (HEAT Program)
Residents within the region have the opportunity to have their catalytic converters spray-painted and marked for free, at one of five Midas locations on Nov. 13, Dec. 11 and Jan. 8, 2023. The free painting will be hosted by law enforcement agencies at participating Midas locations between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is required to have your catalytic converter marked and is now open https://converter.midasofrichmond.com. Reserve your time slot and choose from various locations in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Colonial Heights.
The goal of the operation, inspired by efforts in other regions, is to reduce the number of catalytic converter thefts by making the parts less attractive to thieves and scrap metal dealers. Most catalytic converters do not have serial numbers, making it difficult for law enforcement to prove a catalytic converter is stolen. Overtly marking your catalytic converter with paint associates it with a jurisdiction and proactively aids in deterring theft. The markings also alert scrapyard and recycling businesses the catalytic converter may have been stolen.
"We believe we'll see a reduction in thefts by adding a level of deterrence," said Commander Faith Flippo, Richmond Police Department. "The idea of adding these markings is to quickly identify converters that may have been stolen. Then, if the converter is taken to a metal yard or the culprit is stopped by police in any surrounding jurisdiction- we literally may catch thieves ‘red-handed.’"
As catalytic converter theft is on the rise nationwide, Virginia ranks twenty third in the country with 917 thefts in 2021. Thefts have increased because the car parts contain precious metals that have skyrocketed in value in recent years. Replacing a catalytic converter can cost between $945 and $2,500.
“This type of crime can create a financial dent in our community members’ wallets,” said Officer Doug Smart, Henrico County Police Division. “We urge all community members to take active steps to avoid becoming a victim.”
In Henrico County, between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, there have been 683 vehicles targeted for catalytic converters. That number is up from last year during the same period which had 504 catalytic converter thefts. In the city of Richmond, reports of theft will surpass the total number of incidents reported in 2021. As of September 30, Richmond reported 566 incidents of catalytic converter theft with 559 reports total in 2021. In Hanover County, there have been 60 reported catalytic converter thefts in the community through September 2022. As a result of the Sheriff’s Office’s investigative work, five individuals have been arrested in connection to multiple thefts.
Catalytic converters are part of a car’s exhaust system and convert toxic gases into less dangerous gases. Unfortunately, vehicles with missing converters often pollute more and have excessively loud engine noise, which worsens when drivers speed up. A quick stop to a Midas in the Richmond area to have your cat converter painted with high-heat automotive paint could help save you thousands in repair costs.
Participating Midas locations:
Chesterfield Colonial Heights Henrico in Short Pump
10160 Hull Street 1400 Boulevard 11463 West Broad Street
5301 West Broad Street 1212 North Arthur Ashe
Other ways to protect your vehicle include:
• Park in a garage or secured parking area;
• Install a bright motion sensor light to discourage potential thieves;
• Install an anti-theft device;
• Always lock vehicle and set the alarm;
• Fleet vehicles and minimally used vehicles should be parked in a secured and well-lit area.