SAN MATEO, Calif. (KRON) — Auto part thefts are surging, especially by thieves who can snatch a catalytic converter in less than 60 seconds.

The San Mateo Police Department wrote, “Several factors made catalytic converter theft extremely attractive for thieves. Catalytic converters can be stolen in less than a minute without being detected, and they are not easily identifiable or traceable, which made them easy to sell for lucrative payouts at scrap metal yards.”

The San Mateo Police Department is taking action to combat the problem by providing residents with catalytic converter marking kits that can be self-installed.

Police purchased 500 CATGUARD marking kits for San Mateo residents. The kits include two ultra-destruct labels with an identification number that will break into pieces if an attempt is made to remove it, metal etching fluid, two windows stickers, and information on how to register in the CATGUARD database.

“CATGUARD works by placing an ultra-destruct sticker with a unique serial number on a cold catalytic converter. The metal etching fluid is applied over the sticker. Then the engine of the vehicle is started to heat the converter, which results in the unique number from the sticker being etched onto the catalytic converter,” SMPD wrote.

The unique number is registered into the CATGUARD database, allowing law enforcement to trace the converter to a specific vehicle if the converter is stolen and later recovered. Additionally, vehicle owners can place the two warning stickers on the vehicle to prove enrollment in the database and deter thieves from targeting the vehicle.

Police Chief Ed Barberini said, “Catalytic converter theft is a problem that requires a proactive, timely, and innovative response. This program, in conjunction with new legislation, actively addresses this challenging issue and seeks to significantly limit one’s ability to profit from this type of crime.”

Beginning on Thursday, residents can sign up at www.cityofsanmateo.org/CATGUARD . Residents will be selected on a first come and first served basis. The San Mateo Police Department hopes to make more CATGUARD kits available at a later date.