Credit: Em Espey

To combat rising trends in catalytic converter thefts county-wide, the Montgomery County Police Department will be partnering with local auto dealerships and mechanics to offer catalytic converter etchings and paintings free-of-charge to residents. To-date, there have been 737 thefts of motor vehicle parts or accessories in Montgomery County this year, according to Data Montgomery.

The latest Montgomery County annual report on crime and safety posted by MCPD in 2021 showed theft of auto parts increased in the county by 40% in 2021 over 2020 and 89% over 2019. The report stated that catalytic converters continued to be targeted in these incidents “for the precious metals contained within which include platinum, rhodium and palladium.” Catalytic converter thefts from Toyota Prius models accounted for nearly 65% of all catalytic converter thefts, the report showed.

In a recently reported incident, a Pennsylvania man was arrested Feb 22 for stealing two catalytic converters from cars in Bethesda.

The trend isn’t just limited to the county, according to data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which stated that catalytic converter thefts nationwide increased by 1,215% between 2019 and 2022. 

According to a police media advisory, identification numbers chemically etched on the converters during the etch-and-catch event will be retained in a database in case a theft occurs. 

Police stated that the bright paintings and window cling decal will act to deter thieves and serve as warning to those looking to buy these stolen converters that they can now be easily traced. 


Operation Etch and Catch will be launched Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fitzgerald Auto Mall, 11411 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda.