The New Westminster Police have recently observed an increase in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles and would like to offer prevention tips to the public.
A catalytic converter is an emissions-control device attached to a vehicle’s exhaust system which converts toxic exhaust gases to less harmful emissions. These devices have become increasing popular items for thieves as they contain precious metals such as platinum. They can be stolen in a matter of minutes and are generally sold to less savoury scrap metal dealers for small amounts of cash. It should be noted that the replacement cost to owners and insurance companies for replacement converters is significant.
The NWPD have noted that most of the recent thefts are happening overnight, and Toyota vehicles are almost exclusively being targeted – particularly trucks or SUV style vehicles with higher ground clearance allowing easier access to thieves. There does not seem to be a location pattern for these thefts other than the fact that most have occurred with vehicles parked in unsecured, easy access areas such as the street or open parking lots.
The following steps are recommended to make it more difficult for thieves to steal these items:
- Where possible or available, park vehicles in secured parking areas as opposed to street or open area parking.
- If street or open area parking is your only option, try to park in well lit areas, or stalls close to entrances or areas with increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
- Be aware of suspicious persons loitering in parking lots or other unsecured areas where vehicles are parked. Call Police should you be concerned that someone is acting suspicious in these areas or about to commit a theft from a vehicle.
- If you own an SUV or truck style vehicle with high ground clearance, consider speaking with your local vehicle maintenance garage about low cost options for securing or alarming your vehicle against catalytic converter or other thefts from your vehicle.
It is believed that this crime is significantly underreported as victims generally take their vehicles directly to a garage for repairs. In an attempt to identify suspects, the NWPD Criminal Intelligence Unit is reviewing all recent and new catalytic converter theft files, and all victims of such thefts are encouraged to make a police report.