Richmond, BC – A catalytic converter is a cylindrical or oval shaped canister that comes pre-installed by the manufacturer of an automobile. Its function is to reduce pollutants by the engine’s combustion process. The catalytic converter contains precious metals such as rhodium, palladium, and platinum. They are a target for theft due to their relatively easy access and lack of identifying markings. Due to rising prices for these metals and quick removal, they are a target for thieves.
A thief will typically slide underneath a vehicle and utilize a cordless reciprocating saw or grinder. These tools are not overly large and can be concealed in a jacket or backpack. After a series of cuts are made, the catalytic converter is removed from the vehicle’s exhaust system. This can be accomplished in under 5 minutes. A telltale sign of this is noise and sparks being generated. Once the vehicle’s owner returns and starts their vehicle, unusual noises, louder than normal exhaust sounds, and likely a check engine light indicator will be present on the dashboard.
Richmond RCMP suggest the following:
Whenever possible, park in a secured garage or compound. If this is not possible, park in a well-lit and well-populated area.
For business owners, consider securing their vehicles/fleet behind locked fencing/compounds.
Consider the use of products designed to deter catalytic converter theft, including engraving, security cages, alarms, and specialized strapping.
If anyone in community should witness suspicious activity near parked vehicles, especially if loud unusual mechanical noises or sparks are seen, report it to police immediately. If the suspicious activity is in progress, contact 9-1-1.
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