Lancaster city police car

With thefts of catalytic converters rising nationwide, Lancaster city is hosting an event meant to deter would-be thieves.

The Lancaster County Auto Crimes Task Force, in partnership with The Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority will host a free catalytic converter etching detail from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lancaster city’s public works garage, 225 Riverside Ave.

At the event, city police and public works employees will etch vehicle identification numbers (VIN) onto the catalytic converters which makes it difficult to resell stolen parts. The process takes 10-15 minutes once a vehicle is on the lift.

A catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler attached to a vehicle’s exhaust system and converts hazardous exhaust into less harmful gasses using platinum, palladium and rhodium. The value of those precious metals has spiked, making catalytic converters a more frequent target for thieves.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that nationwide there were 1,203 thefts per month on average in 2020, up from 282 in 2019. Locally, Lancaster city police say they have also seen an uptick in catalytic converter thefts throughout the county.

In June, a Harrisburg man was charged with removing 38 catalytic converters from eight different East Hempfield Township businesses between July 10 and October 20, 2020. And on May 24 in Lancaster city, someone took a catalytic converter from a vehicle parked in the 900 block of East King Street, police reported.

Lancaster city police say some vehicle types are more commonly targeted, including Honda Pilot, Honda Element and Toyota Prius.

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