UCF police helping protect students from catalytic converter thefts

Department teaming with ProTechDNA to engrave catalytic converters on vehicles belonging to UCF students

The UCF Police Department hosted an event Tuesday to help combat catalytic converter thefts.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The UCF Police Department hosted an event Tuesday to help combat catalytic converter thefts.

Officers joined with a company called ProTechDNA and State Farm insurance to provide free engraving for catalytic converters on vehicles belonging to University of Central Florida students.

“A trend across the country right now is people are stealing the catalytic converters for the precious metals and it’s just getting worse and worse,” ProTechDNA President Shawn Andreas said.

ProTechDNA uses high-tech labels with microscopic dots, each etched with a PIN number unique to the vehicle owner. This makes it easier for law enforcement to return the property to the owner if it’s lost or stolen.

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“We get the serial number from those dots and then we run it through the ProTechDNA system and it pops up a whole profile for those serial number dots,” Detective Alex DeLuca said.

Earlier this year, two men were arrested by UCF police after a rash of catalytic converter thefts on campus. The case mirrored a larger trend of thefts across Central Florida and the country.

Police said catalytic converters are hard to trace back to the rightful owner, but with the etching, the stolen property can easily be returned after being recovered.

“We located 25 catalytic converters. We were only able to find the victims for 11 or 12 of those converters,” DeLuca said. “If the rest of the 13 or 14 converters had this gel on it, we would have been able to identify the victims in a couple of seconds.”

A free ProTechDNA package and installation were provided to the first 100 students on Tuesday.

The event was held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Parking Garage A on the main campus.

Vehicle owners can request a free ProTechDNA kit here.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.