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Auto Repair Students Help Denver Police Tackle Growing Catalytic Converter Theft Problem

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver police are enlisting the help of automotive repair students to try to lower the number of thefts of catalytic converters.

"I didn't know it was a big problem until one of the instructor's brought it up to me," said Blake Sheldon, a student at Lincoln Tech.

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On Saturday, Denver police are hoping to engrave 300 cars. It takes just a few minutes for the student volunteers to engrave the last eight digits of a VIN and then spray paint it bright colors. Spots are still available, but people are urged to register.

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"If they see that it's bright orange, they're going to recognize this doesn't look right and hopefully just move on and leave it alone, saving the damage to the vehicle," said Travis Viera, an instructor at Lincoln Tech.

"I think this is one of the best deterrent options we have," said Denver police officer Kiarra Jenkins. "If we do come in contact with a suspect that has a bunch of these, we have a VIN number, we can attach it to a car and we can try and get that person charged with the crime of theft which is huge."

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DPD says it has been working with metal recyclers to try and stop the issue. A rash of thefts have been taking place because catalytic converters as scrap metal fetch a high price. The hope is these engraved and painted pieces will raise red flags.

"We are reaching out to all the local scrapyards and pawn shops to create that partnership and stay in direct communication. If they get one, they're going to notify us so that we can get folks charged," Jenkins said.

RELATED: 'Even My Guys Aren't That Fast': Colorado Auto Repair Shop Owner Marvels At Catalytic Converter Thieves

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