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Catalytic Crime: The battle against catalytic converter thefts continues in Ottawa

Ottawa, Ontario — Catalytic converters are an important part of every vehicle, they serve as an exhaust emission control, help reduce pollutants in exhaust gas and hold a high resale value. Unfortunately, they are also items that  are frequently stolen, say the Ottawa Police Service (OPS). 

As of June 8th, 2021, there has been a 324 percent increase in catalytic converter thefts over the same period last year. Thieves appear to be targeting vehicles in parking lots, parking garages, and laneways. 

Last week, OPS also released photos of several suspects to identify those involved in these thefts; the Police are now bringing attention to the consequences for would-be thieves and buyers.   

Notice to potential thieves and buyers: 

  • Stealing a catalytic converter can result in Criminal charges including Theft under $5000, Mischief under $5000, Possession of stolen property under $5000
  • Purchasing a stolen catalytic converter can result in Criminal charges for the buyer too.
  • Purchasing one: Possession of property obtained by crime under $5000
  • Purchasing two: Possession of property obtained by crime over $5000
  • Possible charges of Trafficking in property obtained by crime over $5000, Breaking and Entering, and Laundering proceeds of crime. 

These thefts happen fast, with only a few tools and the right amount of time, they are quickly removed before the vehicle owner notices. A video posted online from a partnering police service shows how in under 60 seconds, the catalytic converter can be removed.

The Ottawa Police Service has documented that these thefts mainly occur in the late evening or overnight, and often with vehicles that are higher off the ground (commercial vehicles, full sized vans, pick-up trucks).

With this information in mind, the Ottawa Police Service is offering some tips to protect your vehicle against catalytic converter thefts:  

  • Make your vehicle less vulnerable to thefts by parking it in a locked garage.
  • Lock your vehicle and ensure that the security system is active, if equipped.
  • Exterior lighting and video surveillance around the driveway can also serve as a deterrent.
  • Parking near a busy pedestrian area or near any known surveillance cameras. 
  • Finally, a good old-fashioned neighbourhood watch. If you see something suspicious, do not engage the suspected thieves, call 911, and be vigilant!

Catalytic converter thefts can be reported online.

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