Police warn of spike in catalytic converter thefts thanks to valuable metals
TORONTO -- If your car has been sitting stationary during the pandemic, you might want to start checking on it, as thefts of catalytic converters are on the rise across Canada.
Part of the vehicle’s exhaust system, the catalytic converter helps to reduce emissions and reduce the noise the car produces, but for thieves, the value lies in the precious metals used to make it: rhodium, palladium and platinum, which can be sold on the black market.
"Rhodium is about $19,000 an ounce, more than 10 times the value of gold," R. Michael Jones, CEO of Platinum Group Metals, told CTV News. "Palladium is about $2,200 and platinum is about $1,300 an ounce."
In the Guelph area, a couple dozen catalytic converters have been stolen since late last year. Police in Ottawa, Ont. say they’ve had 28 thefts since January 1, 2021, with 31 vehicles affected.
“We came to work Monday morning and our guys went to start their trucks, and there was this roar from underneath, and I just knew someone stole the catalytic converters,” Rick Oosterveld, owner of Oosterveld Heating and AC in Guelph, Ont., told CTV News Kitchener.
In Winnipeg, 77 thefts were reported in January alone.
According to Const. Dani McKinnon, the Winnipeg Police Service has had a number of reports that led to police apprehending suspects in people’s driveways.
“We’ve actually arrested people in progress of stealing these catalytic converters simply because they’ve heard power tools at an odd time of night,” McKinnon said.
In Manitoba, those who have already experienced catalytic converter crime are crying foul after learning they have to pay more for a replacement as the province’s public auto insurer is charging a betterment fee for the new parts.
For some who have had their cars targeted, such as Bryce Davidson, it feels like being robbed twice.
“I’m angry because I thought I had insurance to protect me from events like this, but it seems like you still have to pay to be a victim,” Davidson told CTV News.
Davidson’s catalytic converter was taken from his car in broad daylight and he is now facing a $700 bill to get a new one. The money can only be reclaimed if the person responsible for the crime is caught, convicted and repays the cost.
To protect your car and your wallet, experts suggest parking in a garage if you can, or in a well-lit area if you can’t.
With files from Rachel CrowSpreadingWings and Stephanie Villella