DENVER – Police in Denver said Friday they are seeing a pattern of catalytic converter thieves using armed lookouts while the emissions devices are being stolen and warned people not to engage with the thieves.
Denver police said they made the discovery while trying to find patterns surrounding the string of catalytic converter thefts. The department said there have been around 135 reports of people showing a firearm or pointing one at someone during a catalytic converter theft over the past three years.
But Denver police also said the department was “unaware of anyone being injured when confronted by a ‘lookout.’” However, a homeowner in Jefferson County was shot at while confronting some thieves who were trying to steal his catalytic converter from his car in early March.
Some police departments and auto shops around the metro area will engrave your VIN number onto your catalytic converter or put cages around it – two things that police say can help deter thieves. People can also have the bolts that hold catalytic converters in place welded to further deter thieves.
Thieves often will sell catalytic converters to scrapyards because of the expensive metals contained inside of them, though some scrapyards will not take devices they know are stolen.
“As with any crime in progress, residents are strongly encouraged to avoid engaging with suspects, to call 911, and to be a good witness who can share relevant details with responding police officers,” the department said.