‘Some of the highest prices’ for metals as New Brunswick sees more catalytic converter theft

Click to play video: 'With metal prices on the rise, thieves target catalytic converters' With metal prices on the rise, thieves target catalytic converters
WATCH: A scrapyard in Moncton says the value of recycled metals is on the rise. One common item often stolen for it's worth are catalytic converters -- part of your car's exhaust system. A New Brunswick school district recently found that out the hard way. Callum Smith explains. – Aug 5, 2021

The vice-president of a scrap recycling facility in Moncton says the value of items that get turned in to his business is rising.

“Every part of the recycling industry, the prices are moving upwards,” says Robert Nowlan, the vice-president of Tri Provinces Enterprises. “[They’re] some of the highest prices we’ve had available in years.”

That could’ve been part of the motivation for thieves and vandals who hit the Anglophone East School District last week.

Over the course of two days, 12 district maintenance vehicles at Bernice MacNaughton High School were damaged, thousands of dollars worth of tools were stolen, and some catalytic converters were cut off and stolen.

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“Twelve vehicles damaged in all, and 10 catalytic converters that were… three were stolen and seven were in the process [of being stolen],” says Stephanie Patterson, the director of communications for the district.

Read more: N.S. police charge man in relation to 90 thefts of catalytic converters

While he’s not sure theft is on the rise, Nowlan says ever-changing technology has made stealing things such as catalytic converters easier.

“Twenty years ago, somebody had a hacksaw,” he says. “Today, they’ve got a battery-operated reciprocating saw that they can cut a catalytic converter off in a couple of minutes.

So, his business doesn’t take many chances.

“In our yard, we’ve had a lot of inquiries on catalytic converters,” Nowlan says. “We typically, at our facility, will buy from certain people, I guess. If you don’t look like you should be selling a catalytic converter, chances are we’re not going to buy it from you.”

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The exhaust system part takes pollution out of the air and has three types of metals inside; platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Read more: Why are thieves across Canada stealing catalytic converters?

New Brunswick RCMP has publicly reported three instances of catalytic converter thefts since mid-June by way of news releases, hoping the public can help solve the crimes.

“If you see somebody walking around the cars, that are kind of looking in, or looking underneath, or doing something strange that just doesn’t belong in your community, in your parking or in your area, we’re asking you to contact your local RCMP or your local police service,” says Cpl. Hans Ouellette, a spokesperson for the force.

Tips include parking in well-lit areas or inside if possible, marking and engraving your catalytic converters, being aware of its serial number, and having photos.

But for the school district, it’s a tough reality, especially heading into the new school year.

“The money that is going to be used to replace these tools and equipment, unfortunately, is going to have to come from money that would have been distributed to schools and students and maintenance in other ways,” Patterson says.

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