Thefts of a certain car part are on the rise in Saskatchewan, according to RCMP.
Saskatchewan RCMP say they have received more than 100 reports of catalytic converter thefts in RCMP jurisdiction so far in 2022. In comparison, they say they received just 30 such reports last year during the same time period from January to May.
A catalytic converter turns car exhaust into less harmful substances. Monica Deters, Saskatchewan RCMP crime prevention acting officer, says in some cases, owners have reportedly started their vehicles that had been stored away over the winter, only to find that their catalytic converter had been stolen over the winter months.
“Owners will typically report catalytic converter theft when they start up their vehicles and realize that something isn’t quite right and then they look under the vehicle and realize that the catalytic converter has generally been cut out,” Deters said.
Deters also says they have seen thefts in motor homes, car dealerships, compounds and other areas with a high volume of vehicles.
While the entire catalytic converter is often stolen, it’s mainly the insides made up of precious metals that are valued by thieves. These metals, mainly platinum, palladium and rhodium, are often sold to recyclers as their values have been increasing.
“There’s a lot of metals in catalytic converters that the price fluctuates on, but generally as of late the price has been higher, so that’s another reason that we think these crimes may be increasing.”
Kelly Miller, owner of Minute Muffler on Victoria Avenue, says he gets calls about stolen catalytic converters and their replacements far too often.
“I probably get a call every day,” Miller said. “We can have many in a day, it seems to go in waves,”
And for those who have been victims of catalytic converter theft and are looking to purchase a replacement, Miller says it’s not a cheap fix, depending on the vehicle they have.
“I would say it ranges anywhere from about $600 to $2,500 and depending on how much they damaged underneath when they cut them off, so other components like oxygen sensors and transmission lines and just different things that they might have cut with the Sawzall trying to get the catalytic converter itself.”
Saskatchewan RCMP say it only takes a couple of minutes to remove a catalytic converter and anyone with a vehicle can be a target.
“Anybody who has a catalytic converter on their vehicle obviously could be a victim,” Deters said. “So that’s why we advise victims to park, if you can, in an area with video surveillance, which may not always be possible, and to regularly check your vehicle to make sure that the catalytic converter is still on it”
Deters also says the RCMP are working on a program, called “You Etch It, We Catch It,” where vehicle identification numbers are etched onto catalytic converters for easy owner identification in the event of a stolen converter being sold.