North Vancouver RCMP are warning the public after a string catalytic converter thefts from parked vehicles.
There have been six reported thefts in the last two weeks, including one in which police nearly arrested a suspect early this morning.
Around 4:30 a.m. on June 11, a Central Lonsdale resident called 911 when he saw some suspicious activity outside. When police arrived, the suspect jumped into a waiting vehicle and sped off. Because there was no imminent threat to public safety, officers followed provincial guidelines and did not give chase, according to a release from Sgt. Peter DeVries, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman.
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 contain precious metals that some unscrupulous 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.
The best way to keep your cat where it belongs, DeVries said, is to park your vehicle in a garage whenever possible. If that’s not an option, try to park in a well-lit area. Thieves like to target Toyota 4Runners because their catalytic converters are particularly easy to access. Apart from that, the best way to deter theft is to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, like the Central Lonsdale man did, and “when in doubt, give us a shout,” DeVries said.
"Our biggest investigational asset is the community," said DeVries. "If a thief knows the whole neighbourhood is watching and eager to call us, they’ll be more likely to move on."
In 2016, a North Vancouver provincial court judge handed down a nine-month jail sentence to a Surrey man after he pleaded guilty to theft, possession of property obtained by crime and resisting arrest. The Crown said he had been staking out victims on the North Shore and eventually sold 66 catalytic converters to a scrap metal dealer in Abbotsford.
Anyone with information about the latest string of thefts is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.