CRESTWOOD, Mo. – Catalytic converters can be a popular target for thieves, but one police department in the St. Louis area hopes to change that through a new program.

The Crestwood Police Department has officially launched Operation Etch & Catch. The program is designed to help reduce theft and illegal transactions involving catalytic converters.

Crestwood police have partnered with several automobile service shops to encourage etchings on catalytic converters. Drivers can bring their vehicle to one of five participating shops for any service involving a lift, then request a mechanic to etch their license plate number on their catalytic converter.

When this happens, the automobile shop will apply a metal etching of the vehicle’s license
plate number as well as a strip of bright heat-resistant paint on the catalytic converter. This gives the catalytic converter a unique mark and an identification number that can be entered into the regional criminal database if it is stolen.

Crestwood police say this is the first etch-and-catch program in the St. Louis area. Officers say this service is important following a rise in catalytic converter thefts in neighborhoods and near businesses.

“We are very happy to be able to partner with our local automotive businesses to curb the theft of catalytic converters from the hard-working residents and business owners of Crestwood,” said Crestwood officer Dion Olson. “I hope that other departments follow our lead, and start utilizing this program for their communities as well.”

Police are also working with metal recyclers and scrap yards in the St. Louis area to inform them of new etchings and numbers connected with the program. For a list of automobile shops that offer the etching service in Crestwood, click here.