Authorities are concerned over the troubling rise in catalytic converter thefts across Southern California.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is working to prevent these thefts by providing free etching services in La Crescenta on Saturday.

“Just this year alone, we’ve seen a huge increase,” said Detective Fletcher with the LASD in Crescenta Valley. “I’d say we have thefts on the daily. It’s an unfortunate thing that we’re trying to reduce.”

Deputies are etching catalytic converters with vehicles’ VIN numbers in an effort to reduce the number of stolen converters.

Even if the converters are stolen, the etched information will help with prosecution efforts.

“Inside the catalytic converters, there are precious metals so these bad guys are taking the catalytic converters and reselling them for those precious metals for a couple hundred dollars each,” explained Fletcher. 

Thieves like to target converters because the theft process only takes a few moments, as well.

“They get under those cars, zip them out and they’re in and out in under three minutes, sometimes faster,” said Fletcher.

When authorities catch thieves with stolen converters, they say it’s difficult to identify which vehicles they belong to without any etched information.

“Without a vehicle, we don’t have a victim and at that point, it’s very hard for us to prosecute or move forward with any charges,” said Fletcher. “We find a catalytic converter with a VIN number, we’re able to run that and identify a victim and hopefully return the catalytic converter back to them.”

Locals who participated in the event say they’re eager to take extra precautions in the event they may be targeted.

Authorities say a replacement for stolen converters can be quite expensive, so they’re hoping residents will consider taking extra safety measures along with avoiding a potentially high bill.