San Mateo County and Jiffy Lube hold 'Etch and Catch' event amid spike in catalytic converter thefts

San Mateo Sheriff, Jiffy Lube hold ‘Etch and Catch’ event amid catalytic converter theft surge

in Crime

A new State Farm report has California topping the nation in catalytic converter theft this year, “with more than 3 out of 10 claims being filed in the Golden State.” Nationally, the number of claims filed over stolen catalytic converters, targeted by thieves for their precious metals, is up 293 percent from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 over the previous year, the report added.

The unfortunate trend is no surprise to local law enforcement. In fact on Wednesday, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office held an event at Jiffy Lube in San Carlos that aimed to raise awareness about the problem and help local residents prevent the the crime. The “Etch and Catch” event had Jiffy Lube etching the vehicle license plate number onto the catalytic converter of a participant’s vehicle, which can deter thieves and help investigators solve cases. 

The Sheriff’s Office called the event an “absolute success” and are inviting more vehicle repair facilities in the County to participate in the “Etch and Catch” program. The businesses can contact Sergeant Andy Hui at

“While this service will not be offered regularly at Jiffy Lube, the Sheriff’s Office anticipates hosting similar events in the future,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

State Farm says catalytic converters can be easy to remove, particularly in tall vehicles like SUVs.

“Once the part has been extracted, drivers will hear the engine without any muffler, letting them know they have become the latest victim of this crime,” the insurance company said.

Comprehensive insurance coverage is one way to avoid losses in such cases. To prevent thefts, according to State Farm, drivers should consider parking inside a garage or in well-lit areas, installing a sensitive alarm system, having a security camera pointing at your car in its usual parking spot, or, as the Sheriff’s Office promoted in its Etch and Catch event, engraving your VIN on your car’s catalytic converter.

Photo courtesy of San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office