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Huge jump in catalytic converter thefts prompts Coquitlam RCMP warning

Police are warning residents to park in well-lit areas in view of surveillance cameras whenever possible

A jump in the number of catalytic converter thefts has the Coquitlam RCMP warning residents to be vigilant when parking their vehicles. 

The detachment released surveillance footage of a recent theft to show how quickly thieves are able to steal the devices, which work to filter vehicle pollution but also contain valuable metals.   

Police said between January and July of this year, the number of reports of stolen catalytic converters increased to 13 per month compared to eight during the same period last year. 

“We’re seeing a big jump,” said Coquitlam RCMP Const. Deanna Law. “In a seven-month period comparison between 2019 and 2020, we’ve seen an almost 50% increase in reported catalytic converter thefts.”

Law said there are things vehicle owners can do to protect themselves.

Residents should be aware of suspicious noises, like electrical tools running late at night, and drivers should park in well-lit areas or in a locked garage. Vehicle owners may also be able to adjust their security systems to activate from vibrations caused by electrical tools. 

Keeping a vehicle in view of security cameras can also work to deter thieves, she added.

“Security video can provide important evidence,” she said. “At times the smallest details can connect and solve more than one crime.”

Police started noticing a rise in catalytic converter thefts late last year when 44 were stolen between August and November 2019, a 335% increase over the previous year.

A fire that damaged two vehicles on the north side of Port Coquitlam last summer was likely caused by thieves attempting to steal catalytic converters, according to the Coquitlam RCMP. - File photo

And in July 2019, a fire damaged two vehicles when thieves attempted to steal the device from a parked car in Port Coquitlam. 

Law added that residents should always call 911 if they see a crime in progress and report catalytic converter thefts or attempted thefts to the non-emergency number (604-945-1550) as soon as possible. 

“Information from the public is key for marking arrests and building crime activity maps,” she said.