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Police arrest suspect in connection with catalytic converter thefts in Hamilton

Thieves have long targeted car stereos, air bags, halogen headlights, even pocket change from the ashtrays. But now they are crawling under vehicles and cutting away the catalytic converters for the precious metals inside.   .
Thieves have long targeted car stereos, air bags, halogen headlights, even pocket change from the ashtrays. But now they are crawling under vehicles and cutting away the catalytic converters for the precious metals inside. . AP Photo by Robert F. Bukaty

Hamilton police say a 36-year-old man with no fixed address has been arrested in connection to a rash of catalytic converter thefts in the city.

Investigators say 61 converters were stolen in the Hamilton area at malls, educational facilities and other commercial areas during the last six months.

Detectives say thieves simply cut them out of large vehicles, like SUVs.

Catalytic converters contain “high-value metal” that is often sold to scrap metal yards for cash.
Catalytic converters contain “high-value metal” that is often sold to scrap metal yards for cash. Hamilton Police Service

Police say the suspect was charged with mischief under $5,000 and failure to comply with probation.

Const. Jerome Stewart told Global News that the suspect has not yet been charged with the actual thefts due to the on-going investigation but that is expected at some point.

“Investigators believe he’s responsible for the strong majority of the incidents at this point time,” said Stewart,  “They didn’t charge him with any of these yet, only because they still believe there are potentially other victims out there.”

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READ MORE: Spike in exhaust device thefts from Hamilton vehicles has police concerned

Catalytic converters are a key component in a vehicle’s exhaust system that essentially reduces the emission of toxic gases and pollutants.

“It’s like an oven — it burns off anything the engine didn’t, and makes for cleaner emissions,” Dave McDonald, president of Bodyline Auto Recyclers, told Global News.

READ MORE: Vehicles seized and three arrested in OPP bust of alleged car theft ring

McDonald says the attraction for thieves to steal the converters is the high-value metals that can be easily sold to scrap metal yards.

“It’s worth more than gold an ounce,” said McDonald. “It’s palladium, rhodium … Let’s put it this way: the motivation for them to do it is definitely the scrap metal and any scrap metal dealer would buy it.”

Police say vehicles in Hamilton’s downtown core are most likely to be targeted in a catalytic converter theft.
Police say vehicles in Hamilton’s downtown core are most likely to be targeted in a catalytic converter theft. Hamilton Police Service

Hamilton police say where and how you park your vehicle can reduce the risk of losing a valuable part. Parking in well-lit areas, closer to pedestrian or vehicle traffic rather than isolated areas, or near video surveillance could substantially reduce the chances of theft.

Hamilton police are looking to hear from anyone with information on the thefts. Tips can be made at 905-546-8934 or 905-546-2991, at Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.

Pandemic of auto theft: Toronto police
Pandemic of auto theft: Toronto police