As B.C. sees a sharp increase in catalytic converter thefts, the provincial government has vowed to close a loophole in the law that makes it easier for thieves to cash in on them.
The Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act, passed in 2011, regulates the sale and purchase of regulated metals, but does not include catalytic converters in its scope.
“With the spike that we have seen in the theft of these devices, we’re going to close that loophole,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. “We have been working on it.”
Catalytic converters are an exhaust emission control device made up of a variety of precious metals, including platinum, palladium and cadmium.
Under the current act, purchasers of scrap metal must record those purchases as a theft prevention measure, but the province’s definition of “regulated metal” excludes the ingredients that make up catalytic converters.
Dov Dimant, owner of Capital Salvage, said the devices can fetch between $5 and $1,000, depending on the concentration of precious metals inside.
“Generally, the big trucks are going to have more expensive catalytic converters,” he said. “Imports, sports cars are going to have more expensive catalytic converters.”
The Metal Dealers and and Recyclers Act requires Dimant to take a valid B.C. identification from each seller to the shop. He records necessary information into a system that’s linked to the Vancouver Police Department.
He doesn’t have to do that when someone brings in a catalytic converter, he said, which happens a few times per week — but he always has his eyes open for signs of theft.
“If it has any other distinguishing marks kind of a thing (or) where it’s been reported stolen, we’ll do the right thing. But generally, they’re pretty standard looking, and it’s not for me to be judge or jury of who’s bringing it in or whatnot.”
Catalytic converter thefts have become a growing problem particularly in Vancouver and around the Lower Mainland.
The number of reported thefts in Vancouver more than doubled over the last year, surging from 204 in 2020 to 425 in the first 10 months of 2021 alone, according to police.
Farnworth said the province isn’t ruling out a ban on the sale of catalytic converters to recycling depots altogether as a way to close the loophole.
“That being said, there are other issues that also have to be addressed, because we are seeing catalytic converters being sold online or shipped overseas.”
His department will collaborate with police to work on other ways to crack down on the thievery.
– With files from Simon Little
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