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North Van RCMP warn of 'cat' burglars on the prowl

Hondas and Ford 150 trucks most targeted by thieves out to steal catalytic converters in North Vancouver
catalytic converter
Thieves have been targeting catalytic converters on parked cars in North Vancouver.

Police in North Vancouver are warning the public that ‘cat’ burglars are on the prowl again.

Since the beginning of January, there have been 16 catalytic converter thefts from parked cars in several neighbourhoods, including Lynn Valley, Lynnmour and Westview, said Sgt. Peter DeVries, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP.

Honda and Ford F150 pickup trucks appear to be among the vehicles most targeted, he said.

Every vehicle has a catalytic converter as part of the exhaust system in its underbelly. They are used to mitigate the harmful pollutants that the engine emits, but they also contain precious metals that some scrap metal dealers will pay money for. Buying a new one will cost about $200, but the labour for installation as well as insurance deductibles can substantially increase the cost following a theft.

DeVries said "cat" burglars can be ruthlessly efficient: they can get underneath a vehicle and use a battery-powered or cordless handheld saw to cut off the converter in a matter of minutes.

Owners may not even be aware of the theft until they start up the engine. “It sounds really loud,” said DeVries.

It’s not the first time North Vancouver has been hit by a rash of cat burglaries.

In June 2020, six thefts were reported within three weeks.

In 2016, a North Vancouver provincial court judge handed down a nine-month jail sentence to a Surrey man after he was caught staking out and stealing converters from Toyota 4Runners on the North Shore. He eventually sold 66 catalytic converters to a scrap metal dealer in Abbotsford.

The best way to keep your "cat" where it belongs, DeVries said, is to park your vehicle in a garage or a well-lit area. Apart from that, the best way to deter theft is to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, DeVries said.