DENVER (CBS4) – As Colorado theft cases involving catalytic converters continue to climb, AAA Colorado and auto repair shops are hoping to help stop the crime. The hope is to install 10,000 stickers onto catalytic converters to create a way for the part to be tracked.

“This is going to hopefully disrupt that black market, it will make it a lot harder to sell ill-gotten catalytic converters and we hope that also means thieves will think twice before stealing one of these from automobiles,” said Skyler McKinley with AAA Colorado. “It’s a very strong sticker. It’s very difficult to be removed. But as an added preventative measure, we’re also applying a chemical etching component, so it matches that serial number on your catalytic converter. That number is then registered in an anti-theft database that can be queried by law enforcement by parts yards, by salvagers, you name it.”

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The problem has been that a catalytic converter on its own can’t be traced back to cars. Denver police recently launched a program to get VINs carved into the parts. Now, the next time a car gets standard maintenance, AAA Colorado is hoping it can become a theft deterrent. AAA Colorado has partnered with about 150 repair shops all over the state to try and get more identification on more catalytic converters.

“Now we have a serial number, we can track catalytic converters to where they were from, which is key. This is just the start. But it’s also the start of the conversation where we hope to let everybody know ‘Hey, we can track these now,'” McKinley said.

One recent study says Colorado is leading the nation in the spike of thefts compared to last year. In 2019, Colorado only saw a few dozen catalytic converter thefts. In 2021, there have already been more than 2,500.

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Repairs can cost car owners thousands.

“An as a vehicle owner, you still have a responsibility to do your best to park in well lit areas, to know that this is a risk out there. The sticker will help. Having the protection should dissuade these. But also, this is a brand new problem and this is a brand new solution. So, it’s going to take some time. Vigilance is always key.”

RELATED: ‘Even My Guys Aren’t That Fast’: Colorado Auto Repair Shop Owner Marvels At Catalytic Converter Thieves

Jeff Todd