Dixon Police Department Hosts Catalyst Etching Event at Ron Dupratt Ford – The Vacaville Reporter
Dixon Police Officer Jason Malone works with an etching tool to engrave the license plate number on the catalytic converter of a vehicle owned by a Dixon resident during a catalytic converter etching event Saturday at Ron DuPratt Ford. The event was organized by the Dixon Police Department and the Dixon Police Officers’ Association to combat the recent spike in catalytic converter thefts in the city and county. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)
On Saturday there was an endless line of cars on North 1st Street in Dixon, beginning at Ron Dupratt Ford, wrapping around the fire station and beyond. Drivers read books in their cars and scrolled their phones to while the time wait.
What were they waiting for? Etching your catalytic converters.
That might sound like a boring way to spend a Saturday, but according to Dixon Police Officer and event organizer Ken Warren, it can deter thieves from etching your car’s catalytic converter with unique numbering.
Catalytic converter theft is currently a popular crime for thieves looking to make a quick buck. Three precious metals used to make catalytic converters are platinum, palladium and rhodium.
According to a public statement for the event, “Platinum is currently priced at $1,603 per ounce, Palladium at $773 per ounce and Rhodium at $1,200. Thieves can get over $100 for each converter stolen.”
Many police departments are now holding converter etching events to deter criminals. If the offender decides to take the converter anyway, the unique number allows the police to track down the owner of the converter so they know which car it came from.
According to Warren, the closest area to host such an event was the Woodland Police Department.
After making it to the front of the line, the cars were driven into DuPratt Ford’s mechanic shop and lifted by Ford’s mechanics. Then Dixon police officers, Civil Service officers, and members of the Dixon Police Officers Association located the converter, etched the unique number, and then marked the number with high-temperature spray paint.
Two cars were etched at the same time. The process took three to five minutes depending on the car make and model. There were chairs in the parking lot for vehicle owners to sit on while their converters were etched.
One such vehicle owner was Kathleen Kameoka, who recently moved to Dixon. While her car was being etched, her husband waited in line behind her with their other car.
“We got here before it even started and we were like, oh my god, look at how long this line is,” Kameoka said. “We probably waited an hour and a half.”
However, the wait was worth it to avoid the stress of having to deal with a converter theft.
Due to the huge turnout from the very first hour of the event, Warren mentioned that Dixon PD definitely plans to host another etching event later this year.
The most affected vehicles include the 2001-2021 Toyota Prius, 1989-2020 Honda Accord, 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado, 2007-2017 Jeep Patriot, 1998-2020 Subaru Forester, Toyota Tacoma 1995-2021 Honda Element, 2003-2011 Honda Element and 2007-2020 Subaru Outback, 1990-2022 Ford Econoline and 1985-2021 Ford F-Series models.
“Voter turnout is higher than planned,” said Brent Dawson, president of the Dixon Police Officers Association. “Ron Dupratt Ford has received a lot of feedback since they shared the news of the event with their customers. We also posted on social media to bring this to the attention of the public.”
About 20 cars were etched in the first hour of the event. Some converters were easier to find than others. Some cars have two converters, and others are covered with a drilled panel. Despite this, no cars were turned away. More etched cars means fewer thefts overall.
“Catalytic converter theft rates at Dixon kind of fluctuate,” Warren said. “Generally, here they more or less wanted the higher-level vehicles. Many cars can be driven under really easily with a large hydraulic shear. You push a button, it doesn’t really make much noise. They also use Sawzalls, which are a bit louder.”
“They can make a couple grand if they know what they’re doing,” Warren said. “I think either last year or a year ago Dawson got a guy who had a whole truck bed full of converters right next to Pedrick.”
It’s definitely been a long day for officers and residents waiting in their cars, but the simple array of numbers etched into metal will make a world of difference in deterring criminals. This event will allow Dixon PD officers and Dixon residents to both breathe a sigh of relief knowing it will make catalytic converter thefts much easier to prevent and solve.