Press Club

Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Arlington

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(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Arlington is in the midst of a rash of catalytic converter thefts.

At least a half dozen vehicles in the Arlington Forest and Barcroft neighborhoods have have their catalytic converters stolen in recent days, a reader tells ARLnow. That follows reports of multiple converter thefts in various parts of the county in March and April.

An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman tells ARLnow that 85 catalytic converter thefts have been reported so far in 2022, which is now higher than the 82 reported in all of 2021. There have been 17 such thefts reported so far during the month of June, said ACPD’s Ashley Savage, updating today’s figure with three newly-reported cases since Wednesday.

Early yesterday (Wednesday) morning, police nearly caught a group of catalytic converter thieves who were seen tampering with cars 1-2 blocks from the intersection of Langston Blvd and N. Harrison Street.

The suspects sped away after later being spotted by officers near the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Military Road, not far from Chain Bridge. Their car was subsequently found abandoned, with “multiple” catalytic converters inside.

From the ACPD crime report:

GRAND LARCENY: THEFT OF MOTOR VEHICLE PARTS, 2022-06220038, 5400 block of 23rd Street N. At approximately 3:19 a.m. on June 22, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering in progress. The reporting party advised dispatch that they had observed three unknown male suspects trying door handles of parked vehicles before fleeing the scene in the suspect vehicle. A lookout was broadcast and officers observed the suspect vehicle traveling in the area of N. Glebe Road and Military Road. Upon observing officers, the driver quickly accelerated and fled the area. Officers located the unoccupied vehicle in the area of 41st Street N. at Glebe Road. A search of the area was conducted with the assistance of a police helicopter and yielded negative results. During the course of the investigation, multiple catalytic converters, as well as burglarious tools were observed in plain view inside the suspect vehicle. The investigation is ongoing.

The thefts are a regional problem. Earlier this year there were numerous reports across the D.C. area of a rise in catalytic converter thefts. The exhaust emission control devices are a popular target for thieves because they contain several valuable precious metals.

Savage and ACPD offered the following general crime prevention tips to help Arlingtonians reduce the chance of vehicle-related thefts.

  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. Pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked.
  • Park in well-lit, high traffic areas and activate exterior lights at your home.
  • Take all valuables out of your vehicle.
  • Do not leave your keys, key fobs, or valet keys in your vehicle. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle.
  • Participate in the 9PM Routine and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do so too.

“As time and resources permit, officers are conducting extra patrols in the areas of reported incidents,” Savage told ARLnow. “The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of the community. Community members observing in-progress criminal activity, such as individuals pulling on handles of parked cars, should report for police investigation by contacting the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

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