A Surrey woman is speaking out after catching a pair of catalytic converter thieves red-handed in the midst of a brazen daylight theft.
The woman, whom Global News is not identifying out of concern for her safety, captured the incident on video.
It happened just after 5 p.m. in a residential Surrey neighbourhood, where the woman says she saw two men slowly cruising the block in a black car.
“I opened the patio door and all of a sudden I heard a drill start up, or I guess a saw, so I raced downstairs,” she said, adding she hadn’t meant to actually get close to the thief.
“The goal was to yell as loud as I could and sort of scare them away .. but by the time I came out the guy underneath the truck already had the converter, so I spooked him.”
In the video, the woman can be heard exclaiming “excuse me!” at which point a man holding a power tool and the catalytic converter from her work truck, runs to the waiting car.
The second man gets out of the vehicle and yells something at the woman before both men jump back into the car, which has no rear licence plate, and speed away.
“His body language coming towards me was terrifying,” she said.
“I was way closer than I meant to be, so it was a complete panic … It escalated way faster than I would have ever wanted to.”
Catalytic converters have become an increasingly popular target for thieves because of their high value and the fact they contain precious metals.
ICBC says 1,189 thefts have already been reported in 2021 — more than the 1,060 in all of 2020 — at a claim cost of more than $2.3 million.
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Elenore Sturko said police tend to see spikes in catalytic converter thefts when the market value of those metals rise.
“The value of these items and perhaps even the desperation of those who would seek to profit off this type of stolen property really is shown through the brazenness of this video.”
Sturko said high-quality video of crimes is always valuable to police, but that police caution people it can be dangerous to approach or interact with thieves.
“We also don’t want to see people putting themselves at risk in a risk where they themselves might be confronting someone who is in the middle of committing a crime.”
Sturko said people should take every step they can to secure their vehicles, including parking them in a well-lit area or locked garage.
ICBC also recommends installing anti-theft devices such as converter locks or motion-sensitive dash cameras, and suggests people adjust their car alarm sensitivity to activate from the types of vibration caused by a saw.
But Sturko said the fact this incident happened in broad daylight in a well-populated area speaks to how determined thieves can be.
The victim in this case said she was able to get her vehicle quickly repaired, and back on the road in time for work.
But she said the incident is a reminder to everyone just how quickly — and aggressively — thieves can strike.
“It was less than 30 seconds it took them to get it,” she said. “I think they know they’re in and out so quickly that it doesn’t matter.”