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How to combat catalytic converter theft: Richmond RCMP

The theft of a vehicle's catalytic converter has become increasingly popular in Richmond and B.C.
The theft of a vehicle's catalytic converter has become increasingly popular in Richmond and B.C.

Richmond RCMP has issued an explainer and a list of tips to combat the rise of catalytic converter thefts.

The catalytic converters – which contain precious metals such as rhodium, palladium, and platinum – have become a popular target for theft due to their relatively easy access under the vehicle and lack of identifying markings.

And, due to rising prices for these metals and quick removal, they are being stolen at an ever-increasing rate, both locally and across B.C.

A total of 172 such thefts took place in Richmond within just six months in 2022, between June 1 and December 1. In 2021, 230 catalytic converters were reported to be stolen within the first nine months of the year.

“A thief will typically slide underneath a vehicle and utilize a cordless reciprocating saw or grinder,” explained the RCMP.

“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.”

The theft, say police, can all be “accomplished in under five minutes.”

“A telltale sign of this is noise and sparks being generated. Once the vehicle’s owner returns and starts their vehicle, unusual noises, louder than normal exhaust sounds, and likely a check engine light indicator will 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.

For business owners, 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.

If anyone in community should witness suspicious activity near parked vehicles, especially if loud unusual mechanical noises or sparks are seen, report it to police immediately. If the suspicious activity is in progress, contact 9-1-1.