Edmonton police are sounding the alarm. Since October, more than 320 catalytic converter thefts have been reported to them in Edmonton alone — a large spike compared to previous years. So how can vehicle owners protect themselves?
Brent Moellering thought his truck was safe in his driveway until he caught a thief on video using a saw to cut out his catalytic converter.
“You’ve got to alarm it up. I thought having lights, a security camera that’s obvious, I put signage up saying there’s a camera — but people don’t care.”
Police say cameras are both a deterrent and a potential source of evidence.
“Try to have surveillance or cam video. That helps if we can get an identification of somebody,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said.
Other options include parking inside, or in well-lit areas. But even then, the criminals may not be deterred, Pattison explained.
“Certainly it’s being driven often by people who have addictions and they’re willing to feed those addictions however they can.”
A local muffler shop owner, Trevor Gordy, said there are some after-market purchases drivers can make that might help — like adding Kevlar to the piping under your vehicle to make it more difficult to cut.
“There’s been companies that have developed something called a cat cage, which essentially bolts around your catalytic converter. Unfortunately, people just cut on each side a little bit further back and still pull them out,” Gordy explained.
At ABC Muffler and Hitch, Gordy’s taken as many as 27 calls in a single day regarding stolen catalytic converters.
He said to truly stop the thefts though, the demand for the catalytic converters — and the precious metals inside — needs to be eliminated.
“Solution is really getting the scrapyards — anybody that is buying these catalytic converters will have to produce ID. We know this has actually been in the works for a really long time.”
In November, the UCP proclaimed an act that had been on the books since 2012. It would require scrap yards and recyclers to take and note the identification of people selling certain metals, including copper — and potentially, catalytic converters.
“Right now anyone can walk into a scrap metal shop with a truckload of copper or catalytic converters and they will pay cash for all of it. With no documentation to know who did it,” Moellering said.
The problem is the regulations aren’t yet in place. The province said it needs to consult with stakeholders first to iron out the details.
The Alberta government is hopeful regulations will be in place in the spring of 2020.
“The government has to do something to stop it from being so easy to offload this stuff. Even if you look at Facebook marketplace, there are tons of people that just have ads saying they’re buying catalytic converters for cash,” Moellering said.
The city is looking at doing something similar but is at the same point in the process — community engagement.
Until regulations or bylaws are changed, vehicle owners could continue to fall victim to thieves.