Anyone caught with unattached catalytic converter without licence could be fined in Leduc

The City of Leduc has made bylaw changes it hopes will crack down on catalytic converter theft. . Robert F. Bukaty / AP, File

The City of Leduc has made bylaw changes it hopes will crack down on catalytic converter theft.

On Monday, Leduc City Council passed amendments to the Business Licence Bylaw. Now, anyone found with an unattached catalytic converter must have a valid business licence for automotive repair or auto parts supply and transport, or a permit from the RCMP.

Anyone found with an unattached catalytic converter who is unable to produce one of these documents may be fined $1,000 per converter.

“This change is an excellent opportunity to help create a safe community and reduce theft,” Mayor Bob Young said in a statement. “We hope this innovative approach, which is a first in Canada, will help keep converters in the hands of the right people and vehicles.

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“It’s been frustrating. We have so many non-profits that, their vehicles are getting hit so then they’re out of commission, it costs lots of money to replace them. So this is another tool that will allow our RCMP members to seize any converters that they don’t have proof of ownership for.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police launch $50,000 challenge in hopes of solving catalytic converter theft'
Edmonton police launch $50,000 challenge in hopes of solving catalytic converter theft

Automotive repair and auto part supply and transport businesses will automatically be covered with their business licence. Individuals looking for a permit to be in possession of an unattached catalytic converter can get one for free at the Leduc RCMP detachment.

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“With the City of Leduc implementing a bylaw specifically addressing catalytic converters, this will greatly help the police” said Insp. Jeff McBeth, officer in charge of the Leduc RCMP. “This bylaw will provide the RCMP with another tool to advance our investigations and I am grateful for their forward thinking and support towards crime reduction.”

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McBeth said catalytic converter theft has significantly increased in Leduc, as well as other municipalities across Alberta.

“This year we’re 82 per cent over where we were last year at this time. So that tells you we’ve got a bit of a problem on our hands here,” McBeth said, adding the crime is consistent, no matter the time of year.

“Stealing a catalytic converter is such a quick crime that it’s not weather-dependent like other crimes often are… With catalytic converter thefts, it’s less than seconds to steal one. It’s irrelevant how cold it is, so it’s pretty consistent for us.”

In Edmonton, police have launched a $50,000 challenge in hopes of finding a viable solution to catalytic converter theft.

Both the Leduc mayor and the RCMP believe their city’s bylaw could lead to other municipalities writing similar bylaws in hope of stopping the crime.

“There’s such a level of frustration with the catalytic converter theft right now that (the community is) really happy to see that we’re doing something,” Young said.

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“If nothing else, this shows our community that we’re doing something to try and reduce the number of catalytic converter thefts.”

“It’s very difficult for our officers to find somebody in the right place at the right time —committing that crime — when it is such a quick crime,” McBeth said.

“So now we’ve got the ability to interact with the public, whether it’s day or nighttime, find them in possession of a catalytic converter — if they don’t have a permit or they’re not excused by the bylaw being in the automotive industry here, it gives us the ability to seize that item, lay a bylaw charge and continue with our criminal investigation.”

As a way of protecting against catalytic converter theft, Leduc residents can take part in the “You Etch It, We Catch It” program. The partnership between the city and the RCMP allows drivers to go to one of a number of select businesses to have the last eight digits of their VIN engraved onto their catalytic converter for free, while their vehicle is being serviced.

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