Vancouver police are warning drivers after seeing a sharp increase in catalytic converter thefts so far this year.
Police said between Jan. 1 and March 6, police had reports of 71 catalytic converter thefts compared to 33 in the same time period last year.
“Catalytic converters are generally located, or accessed from, underneath a vehicle and are targeted for theft because of the precious metals found inside them,” Const. Tania Visintin with the Vancouver police said in a release.
Police have also released a surveillance video of a theft taking place, in front of someone’s house just after 6 a.m. on Feb. 15.
“Typically, investigators are seeing Hondas account for about 37 percent of the targeted vehicles, followed by Fords with 26 percent and Toyotas with about 7 per cent,” Visintin added.
Right across the country, there has been a surge in catalytic converter thefts, often happening in the dark of night and unnoticeable until the unsuspecting victim turns on the ignition the next day.
On March 9, it is believed a man was crushed under a car in Burnaby in what appeared to be a suspected theft. A passerby spotted his body underneath the BMW sedan.
“The individual was deceased… and in the process of some sort of property crime,” Burnaby RCMP Cpl. Mike Kalanj told Global News at the time, but could not confirm what exactly the victim was trying to steal.
“There were some tools that were there. It appears he wasn’t able to start whatever it was he was trying to get, so I can’t say for certain. I think there is a lot of speculation that it’s a catalytic converter because of the cost of those right now.”
Vancouver police said if possible, people should park vehicles in a garage or secure parking lot, or at the very least in a well-lit area.
When parking at a shopping centre or a similar parking lot, police suggested parking close to the entrance or near the access road where there are vehicle traffic and pedestrians.
In addition, police said to ensure video surveillance systems have good quality resolution and appropriate lighting in order to assist investigators if a theft does take place.
–With files from Nick Logan