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OPP warn of rise in catalytic converter thefts

OPP image of seized catalytic converters from a traffic stop on Highway 401 earlier this year. Image via OPP.

Police services in communities across Ontario, including those policed by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), have noted a dramatic increase in the number of thefts of catalytic converters.

A catalytic converter is a component of the exhaust system on your vehicle that helps reduce both emissions and noise from the vehicle. Because the catalytic converter contains precious metals that are part of the exhaust conversion process, and also because the converters themselves are very expensive to buy, thieves have been targeting them as a means to make easy money on the illicit market, according to a release from OPP dated Thursday, May 13, 2021.

In a few recent occurrences, police officers from the Lennox and Addington (L&A) County detachment have made significant seizures of stolen catalytic converters being transported through our community, OPP said.

While there has not been a statistically significant rise in the number of these occurrences in our community there were a few occurrences during the nights last week of thefts, and attempted thefts, of catalytic converters. The trend across the province indicates that thieves are targeting smaller communities and travelling back home with the stolen goods, according to the release.

“As with any crime of this nature, the best offense is a good defense,” said Inspector Scott Semple, the L&A County detachment commander. “Practicing a few proven crime prevention techniques can dramatically reduce your risk of victimization for thefts and other property crimes”.

OPP said thieves targeting catalytic converters will usually operate at night and, although not exclusively, are most likely to gravitate toward those areas where a number of vehicles are parked and unattended like car dealerships and carpool parking lots.

In order to get to the converters, a thief needs to access the underside of a vehicle and use metal cutting tools like saws or torches in order to cut the converter away from the exhaust system. Simple crime prevention techniques that can lower the risk of becoming victims of these types of crimes include:

  • Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area;
  • Leave exterior lighting on your house at night;
  • Park your vehicle in a garage, if you have one;
  • Review notifications from home security camera systems and look for any suspicious activity; and
  • Always lock your vehicle and ensure that the security system is active, if equipped.

“I strongly encourage everyone to report suspicious activity to the police at the time that it is happening,” Inspector Semple continued. “The public are the best source of crime prevention through vigilance and reporting to police anything that is out of the ordinary around their homes. We all pay the price for these types of crimes through increased insurance premiums and associated costs.”

Calls to the OPP can be made by calling 1-888-310-1122, or *OPP on your mobile device. Additionally, while is it not suitable for crimes in progress, information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.ontariocrimestoppers.ca

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