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Catalytic converter thefts tripled in 2021, West Vancouver police say

Latest victims included seniors centre bus
Catalytic converter 2 web
Const. Kevin Goodmurphy, West Vancouver police spokesman, displays a catalytic converter, following a spike in thefts. Aug. 19, 2021.

West Vancouver police say the community has seen a major spike in thefts from the undercarriage of parked vehicles.

Since the start of 2021, there have been 18 reported cases of catalytic converters being stolen, compared to just five in 2020. Among the latest targets is the West Vancouver Senior Centre’s bus. Others have been personal vehicles and school buses.

Catalytic converters, which help reduce pollution from a vehicle’s exhaust system, are sought after by thieves and unscrupulous scrap metal dealers because of precious metals in their components.

Replacing one can cost more than $1,000. In 2020, ICBC had 2,154 reports of “cat theft,” costing the insurer more than $2 million in claims.

To reduce the risk of theft, police recommend parking behind locked doors, such as in a garage, underground parking or in a locked compound. If that’s not possible, it’s best to park in a well-lit area.

Police are also hoping to catch the cat burglars in the act. It typically requires the use of a power tool to cut them out from the underside of a vehicle, which should be loud enough to grab the neighbourhood’s attention.

“We know this makes a significant amount of noise, and we want people to report this,” said Const. Kevin Goodmurphy, WVPD spokesman. “It’s likely not your neighbour doing renovations at 3 a.m.”

To report suspicious behaviour, West Vancouver residents are asked to call 604-925-7300 or, in an emergency or if crime in progress, 911.