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Montgomery County police trying to curb catalytic converter thefts with operation etch and catch

Montgomery County police hosted their first initiative to try to stop criminals from targeting valuable car parts.

NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Montgomery County and police are trying to address the problem.

Montgomery County Police Department hosted “operation etch and catch” – an initiative to deter thieves from targeting these valuable car parts. This event is the first of its kind for MCPD.

“I am very concerned as a single parent. This is our go-to car we need it for everything,” said Claudia Tonguino, one of the attendees at the event.

Tonguino and her daughter showed up bright and early to the Fitzgerald auto mall in North Bethesda in hopes of preventing her catalytic converter from being stolen. She drives one of the top vehicles being targeted in Montgomery County according to police – a Honda CR-V.

“I started panicking if I could trade in my car I would but I mean this car has been with us for years. I need safety for my daughter and unfortunately, the community that I live near here has had a lot of the reports in Montgomery County for stolen cars,” said Tonguino.

Montgomery County police launched their operation etch and catch. People living in Montgomery County signed up to have serial numbers engraved into their catalytic converter, then mechanics spray painted over it and placed a decal there. Car owners can register their car parts using a QR code. The hope is that if a thief sees the sticker they’ll think twice about stealing the part.

“So far this year in the county we’ve had 22 stolen this year and 22 is too many. We’re going to be etching serial numbers onto the catalytic converters so they can be found later if they’re actually stolen,” said Officer Demond Johnson with MCPD.

According to the MCPD’s 2021 crime report thefts of car parts increased by 40% in 2021 over 2020 and 89% over 2019. Another car thieves are targeting is the Toyota Prius. According to this report, Prius models accounted for almost 65% of catalytic converter thefts.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories about how catalytic converters are being stolen and I do have a hybrid it’s a Toyota Prius hybrid so I worry about that and I think this is a great service for the community so that we’re being proactive,” said Trang Duong

Montgomery County police say that there will be more events like this in the future. Once they pass along the dates and times for that we’ll be sure to update this article.

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