San Jose Police Offering ID Program to Deter Catalytic Converter Thefts

Car owners can protect their pocketbooks by participating in a free program to mark their catalytic converters sponsored by San Jose police and the San Jose Police Foundation.

The Etch and Protect Program allows vehicle owners to have their license plate number etched into the vehicle's catalytic converter, and paints identifying information on the part.The paint and etching supplies are purchased by the San Jose Police Foundation.

The program is meant to deter would-be thieves because it makes it more difficult for them to recycle the converter, police said.

“This program is a great example of a public-private partnership that will make a difference in the lives of San Jose residents,” said Rob Fisher, foundation president. “By etching identifying information into catalytic converters we will give officers another tool for investigating these thefts and holding thieves accountable, and we will protect our neighbors from the burden of an unexpected and costly car repair.”

Police established the Etch and Protect Program in Nguyen's memory.of The Nguyen, a San Jose resident who was shot and killed when he confronted two people tampering with his vehicle.

Beginning Feb. 21, San Jose car owners can get their vehicles etched and painted at Capitol Honda at 745 Capitol Expressway in San Jose, Speedee-Midas at 1825 E. Capitol Expressway in San Jose or Stevens Creek Toyota at 4202 Stevens Creek Boulevard..

“We are very grateful to the participating auto repair shops for their partnership in supporting this important program," Police Chief Anthony Mata said in a statement. “We hope this effort deters catalytic converter thefts, which are having a serious impact on our local community.”

Thieves can make several hundred dollars recycling catalytic converters, while car owners can at times pay $1,000 or more for repairs following a theft, according to police.

Other auto shops that want to participate in the program can call the San Jose Police Foundation at (669) 234-8232 or email. 

Keith Burbank is a reporter with Bay City News.


  1. The problem is that most of these thieves are not going to look for the ID marks before they Cut Off the Cat and take it with them.

    I remember back in middle school we had a teacher that discussed car battery theft (before remote hood locks) – the solution they used in the ‘hood’ was to attach used razor blades under the hood area where potential thieves would fell around for the latch.

    That would be a deterrent.

  2. Riiiight, the crooks that steal and the crooks that buy the converters are just going to remove the marks — duh!

    Here is a novel idea. Make the theft and receipt of stolen converters a felony with a ten-year sentence. And, require that the DAs prosecute the criminals. WHAT A SHOCKING NEW SOLUTION! Oh, it is actually what we used to do — never mind! ?

  3. It is understandable that readers are skeptical given that, as I understand it, what the thieves ultimately want is the metals inside the device. It would have been nice for this article to have explained *why* the police expect markings on the housing to deter theft,

  4. What a NO-BRAINER! Oh and get rid of all the DemoRats and Blue Coward DA’s and start prosecuting the CRIMINALS!

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