ORCHARD BEACH, The Bronx (WABC) -- The NYPD took new action Friday to crack down on catalytic converter thefts.
It's exploded into a huge problem across all five boroughs, up from 2,000 cases in 2021 to 7,000 in 2022.
It's not every day motorists are happy to have their cars stopped by the NYPD. In fact, they lined up hours ahead of time at Orchard Beach waiting for police to mark their catalytic converters, making them less likely to steal.
The NYPD reports that such thefts are up 220 percent over last year. The converters are valuable because of the materials used to make automobile emissions less toxic. Thieves can cut out a device in minutes after which they're usually sold to scrap yards where they're melted down and the precious metals extracted.
The NYPD program involves placing stickers with an identifying number and then coating them with acid. As the device warms up the serial number becomes etched into the steel.
The markings help identify a stolen catalytic converter, but police say prevention is the key, which is why stickers are also placed on the window to alert potential thieves that the car has been registered.
The NYPD said Friday's event was their biggest turnout so far and the department plans to schedule more of them.
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