Catalytic converter thefts up 450% over last year, Manitoba Public Insurance says – CBC.ca
Tammy Aime thought something had gone wrong with her car after hearing the sound it made when her daughter turned it on one morning.
“I was in the kitchen and I thought there was a monster car in my front yard,” she said in an interview with Marcy Markusa, host of CBC Manitoba’s morning show Information Radio.
“I went to look and there is my bewildered daughter standing next to a very loud airplane that used to be my car.”
Overnight, someone had crawled under Aime’s car and cut out the catalytic converter, a part of the exhaust system that converts pollutants to less toxic material before they’re expelled.
Thieves sell the devices to scrap metal dealers for hundreds of dollars. A new catalytic converter can cost between $1,500 and $2,500, according to Manitoba Public Insurance.
After posting about the theft to her neighbourhood Facebook group, Aime was inundated with responses from others who had experienced the same theft.
When she took her vehicle to get repaired, the mechanics told her around 20 vehicles in a nearby grocery store parking lot had their catalytic converters cut out in one afternoon.
Catalytic converter thefts have increased by 450 per cent over the last year, from 400 in 2020, to more than 2,200 in the first 11 months of 2021, according to MPI.
Because no one was arrested for the theft, Aime was on the hook for her deductible plus a betterment fee for the new converter, which the public insurer applies to any vehicles with more than 80,000 kilometres.
WATCH | Why catalytic converters are a hot item for thieves:
Catalytic converter thefts on the rise in Manitoba
On top of that, she has to pay for car rental, as it will take about a month for the repair, she said.
“So my car is unusable, the cabin keeps filling with exhaust and so the costs just keep going up.”
A spokesperson for MPI said thieves are bold and there is little vehicle owners can do to prevent the thefts, other than parking them in a garage.
“They’ll do it in your driveway, they’ll do it in parking lots, they’ll do it in broad daylight,” Brian Smiley said.
“An experienced catalytic converter thief can do it within minutes and they can steal dozens within an hour.”
There are no devices that can be attached to catalytic converters to prevent their theft, Smiley said.
Scrap metal dealers are not supposed to take converters because of how often they are stolen, Smiley said.
“The thieves are selling them to somebody, unfortunately, and the vehicle owners are the ones who are being inconvenienced, and as the auto insurer of Manitoba, we’re bearing the brunt of the costs.”
Anyone who witnesses a catalytic converter theft should not try to intervene, because it could be unsafe, Smiley said.
On Thursday, Manitoba RCMP reported a rash of catalytic converter thefts in Dauphin over the past three weeks, with 10 converters reported stolen over that period.
The parts are valuable because of the precious metals they contain, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, police said in a news release.
To reduce the risk of theft, …….
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