CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — As catalytic converter thefts increase across the country, one local police department is trying to help find a way to solve these crimes.

The Chesapeake Police Department is holding its first “Tag A Cat” event this weekend.

Chesapeake residents can come out to Chesapeake City Park this weekend to get their VIN numbers etched into their catalytic converter.

Chesapeake Master Police Officer Leo Kosinski says their department is seeing at least 12 thefts a week.

“There’s nothing on this right now that shows us who the original owner is or where it came from, so without a victim it’s hard to investigate and hard to prosecute,” said MPO Kosinski when showing 10 On Your Side one of the catalytic converters they have at the station.

Officers say these cases are especially difficult to prosecute. They say even when they locate the catalytic converters, they don’t know where they came from, so they don’t usually have a victim.

The department purchased an etching machine through Virginia State Police’s Help Eliminate Auto Theft Program. They say other departments have tried this approach and have seen success.

Kosinski says etching the number on the catalytic converter could help give officers a lead for prosecution.

“We’re going to inconspicuously mark it with the vehicle’s vin number and then use some fluorescent paint to mark “CPD” on it, so that way if somebody sees it, they’ll know that one is marked and there’s a higher chance they could get in trouble for that one,” said MPO Kosinski.

Royce’s Wrecker Service is helping with the event this weekend. They plan to help lift the cars so the officers can etch the VIN numbers on the catalytic converter.

Supervisor Richard Macken says catalytic converter thefts happen quick and it’s frustrating for the car owner.

“It can happen in 20 seconds,” said Macken. “If it saves one converter and saves the insurance companies and the owners any amount of money, I feel like we did a good job.”

Though this can’t stop criminals from stealing your catalytic converter, officers hope this will prevent criminals from taking them.

Kosinski says criminals are stealing these for the precious metals inside and some cars are being targeted more than others.

“Primarily they’re coming off of two types of vehicles, vehicles that are higher off the ground like vans, trucks, things like that that are easier to get under, or vehicles that have a higher volume of those precious metals,” Kosinski said.

They hope marking them will help make a difference in the long run.

“The more we can mark them the more apprehensions we can make for the criminals and we are hoping that in itself is going to be a deterrent,” Kosinski said.

The event is Saturday, November 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Chesapeake City Park.

You must be able to prove that you live in Chesapeake.