RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The result of a Catalytic Converter Crackdown performed in Richmond in 2022 has revealed hopeful news for car owners who may be afraid of the costly bill associated with the crime.

The crime prevention tactic was launched on Oct. 19 and involved a partnership with Midas and Napa Auto Parts, in which the heavily stolen car parts were spray painted free of charge.

The catalytic converters were spray painted with a color specific to the car’s jurisdiction, for Richmond – bright orange. The markings alert buyers that the car part was most likely stolen. The car parts were also marked with the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) so the part could be traced back to the owner. Once stolen, replacing a catalytic converter can cost between $945 and $2,500.

Two days before the program’s launch, 592 catalytic converter thefts had occurred in the city in 2022.

According to the Richmond Police Department, an average of 70 catalytic converters were stolen each month from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31. During the crackdown program, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, that number was heavily reduced to an average of 25 per month.

In the 2022 Richmond crime briefing, the department claimed the decrease in thefts had a lot to do with the spray painting, citing footage depicting a would-be thief going underneath a car with the intention of stealing the part, only to come back out empty-handed when they saw the car part was painted.

Many localities participated in the Catalytic Converter Crackdown, including the Ashland, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Hanover, Richmond and Henrico Police Departments, NAPA Auto Parts, National Insurance Crime Bureau, University of Richmond Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia State Police.

Midas of Richmond is still offering appointments for free catalytic converter markings. You can sign up for an appointment online here.

The Richmond Police Department also noted that upwards of 200 more cars were stolen in 2022 than in 2021, an annual increase of 28%. Drivers are reminded to lock their cars and park in well-lit areas to deter would-be thieves.