Editor’s note: A previous version of this story included a comment from police chief Dale McFee which was made in error and has now been removed. The headline of this story originally stated Edmonton police seized 426 catalytic converters. Police actually seized 462. The headline has been adjusted to reflect the correct number. 630 CHED regrets the error.
An Edmonton man is facing numerous charges after police recovered more than 400 stolen catalytic converters last week.
In March, police learned multiple people were cutting off catalytic converters and selling them to a primary suspect.
Throughout the investigation, police said the man was seen conducting a number of transactions with people in back alleys and in parking lots across Edmonton.
Most of the time, people were seen putting catalytic converters, or bags suspected to contain catalytic converters, in the back of a truck being driven by the suspect.
Investigators also found what police called a “stash pad” in northeast Edmonton. Police said the man was seen storing the converters in a storage locker before selling them to one or more recyclers.
On Friday, police said the man was loading a large trailer at the storage locker and headed west on the Yellowhead.
Police officers stopped the trailer and took the man into custody along Highway 16 near Spruce Grove.
After searching the trailer, police said there was 462 catalytic converters inside. Police estimate they would be worth more than $300,000 if sold to recyclers.
Since October 2019, more than 1,000 catalytic converter thefts have been reported to to Edmonton police. Police estimate the thefts may have cost victims around $900,000.
Between February 2020 and June 12, 682 catalytic converter thefts were reported to police and a total of 756 were stolen, police said.
“This individual was preying on people who have been struggling to stay afloat financially right now, many of whom have been laid off or out of work as a result of COVID-19,” Staff Sgt. Steven Chwok said.
“We hope this sends a strong message to others in our community, who might conduct themselves in a similar way.”
Tekie Awte, 24, is facing one count each of trafficking stolen property, possession of stolen property for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime and money laundering.
According to police chief Dale McFee, there were 18 people working on this investigation.