RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Central Virginia, local and state law enforcement agencies are partnering with local repair stores for operation “Catalytic Converter Crackdown,” which aims deter car part thieves.

Catalytic converter thefts have increased nationwide in recent years because the car parts contain precious metals, which has skyrocketed in value. In the city of Richmond alone, reports of theft will surpass the total number of incidents reported in 2021. As of September 30, Richmond reported 566 incidents of catalytic converter theft with 559 reports total in 2021.

In an attempt to curb these numbers, Central Virginia residents will have the opportunity to have their catalytic converters spray-painted and marked for free at one of five Midas locations on Nov. 13, Dec. 11 and Jan. 8 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Registration is required and is open now online. When you register, you will have the option to choose your preferred Midas location from the following choices:

  • 10160 Hull Street, Midlothian, Va.                                     
  • 1400 Boulevard, Colonial Heights, Va.                             
  • 11463 West Broad Street, Richmond, Va.              
  • 5301 West Broad Street, Richmond, Va.                                          
  • 1212 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard, Richmond, Va.                                       

Police hope painting and marking catalytic converters will make the parts less attractive to thieves and scrap metal dealers. Marking catalytic converters makes them more distinctive and easy to identify, further deterring potential thieves.

“The idea of adding these markings is to quickly identify converters that may have been stolen,” Commander Faith Flippo of Richmond Police Department said in a statement. “We literally may catch thieves ‘red-handed.’”

Having your catalytic converter stolen impacts your car’s exhaust system, causing more pollution when you drive. But it is not only costly to the environment, but your wallet — replacing a catalytic converter can cost between $945 and $2,500.

“This type of crime can create a financial dent in our community members’ wallets,” Officer Doug Smart of the Henrico County Police Division said in a statement. “We urge all community members to take active steps to avoid becoming a victim.”

Aside from having your convertor marked and painted, other ways to protect your vehicle include parking in a garage or secure area, installing a bright motion sensor light and anti-theft device and always locking your car and setting an alarm.