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Significant rise in catalytic converter thefts in Richmond, across B.C.

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 1:00 PST, Fri February 3, 2023

Richmond RCMP is warning people to be aware of catalytic converter thefts, as these are on the rise locally and across the province.

A catalytic converter is a cylindrical or oval-shaped canister that comes pre-installed by the manufacturer of an automobile. It reduces pollutants created by the engine’s combustion process. 

Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as rhodium, palladium, and platinum. They are a target for theft due to their relatively easy access, the speed at which they can be removed, the lack of identifying markings, and the rising prices for these metals.

A thief will typically slide underneath a vehicle and use a cordless reciprocating saw or grinder. These tools are not overly large and can be concealed in a jacket or backpack. After a series of cuts are made, the catalytic converter is removed from the vehicle’s exhaust system. This can be accomplished in under five minutes. 

A telltale sign of catalytic converter theft is noise and sparks being generated. Once a vehicle’s owner returns and starts their vehicle, they will hear unusual noises and louder than normal exhaust sounds, and a “check engine” light indicator will likely be present on the dashboard.

Richmond RCMP suggests the following:

  • Whenever possible, park in a secured garage or compound. If this is not possible, park in a well-lit and well-populated area.
  • Business owners should consider securing their vehicles/fleet behind locked fencing/compounds.
  • Consider the use of products designed to deter catalytic converter theft including engraving, security cages, alarms, and specialized strapping.

Suspicious activity near parked vehicles, especially loud unusual mechanical noises or visible sparks, should be reported to police immediately. If the suspicious activity is in progress, contact 9-1-1.

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