WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Car thefts and related crimes are skyrocketing across the Denver metro area, and police in Wheat Ridge are the latest to offer people a tool to fight back.

Volunteers at a crime-prevention event on Sunday applied a chemically-etched number to catalytic converters with a small amount of heat resistant paint. It will put a vehicle owner’s information into a database, so if it’s stolen the victim can contact police and the theft will be traced more easily.

“The recycle shops in the area have been notified to look for the serial numbers that are identifying them as well as marks of them being rubbed off,” said a police spokesperson.

Catalytic converter thieves work incredibly fast, which is why one resident says he’s thankful police were taking the step. Martin Aragon told CBS4 at Sunday’s event that he had his catalytic converter stolen from his car.

“Literally in 52 seconds they were able to get under my car, they worked together and quickly got it done. In the morning I started my car and it sounded like a John Deere with four big Harley Davidsons — that’s how loud it was,” he said.

A total of 300 vehicles came by Sunday’s event.

Wheat Ridge police said they will hold similar events in the future and to check their Facebook and Twitter pages for announcements.

Jesse Sarles