The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has announced a new strategy for combatting the drastic rise in thefts of catalytic converters.

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Per Dave Lucas of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, NYPD Detectives Maureen Stefenelli and Thomas Burke came up with the idea to etch a serial number onto each catalytic converter so that they can be quickly linked to the car they were stolen from. This is a similar policy to one being considered by a number of states, requiring a vehicle's VIN number be featured on the catalytic converter. The goal is to deter theft from occurring by making it easier to link the particular converter to the theft.

Catalytic converter thefts are on a sharp rise over the past few years, including a number of thefts that occurred in the Northern Tier over the past few weeks. They can be removed from cars quickly, and removing them can do a lot of additional damage to the victim's car. A rise in the price of precious metals is responsible for the rise in thefts, according to DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder.

Per Lucas' report, Schroeder said "Just to kind of give you an idea of how costly these metals are, as of December of 2020, Rhodium was valued at $14,500 per ounce, Palladium was at $2,336 per ounce, and Platinum at around $1,000 per ounce. Nationwide, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of thefts has ballooned from about 1200 in 2018 to more than 14,000 in 2020."

As long as precious metals stay so valuable, there's no reason to expect a decline in catalytic converter thefts. So the Department of Motor Vehicles is looking at any option they can find to both deter the thefts and easily link stolen catalytic converters back to the vehicles they were stolen from.

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