Ford in the UK has teamed up with car security marking and registration systems specialist, Retainagroup, and is attempting to thwart the rising epidemic of catalytic converter thefts by permanently marking the exhaust system with a unique identity so that they can be recognized once removed from the vehicle.

Each mark, applied to the casing of the catalytic converter, comprises a logo (the manufacturer’s or Retainagroup’s international security register), a unique seven-digit code and a 24-hour telephone number. Once the mark has been applied, the unique code is recorded with vehicle and owner details on the register and can be verified immediately at any time.

Marking and registration packs will be available from Ford dealerships either as individual customer kits or ‘fleet packs’ containing marking material for 30 vehicles. So far the system is only being introduced in the UK.

The precious metal content of the catalytic converters (usually platinum) fetches around $200 at scrap yards or second-hand parts dealers. Previously there was no way of identifying one converter from another, so thieves ran a low risk of being charged, even if caught.