Sneaky as a Cat(alytic Converter): Salvage thefts on the rise in BC

Toronto, Ontario – If stereos, hubcaps and the car itself weren’t enough to keep an eye on, B.C. drivers are now being warned that their car’s catalytic converter could be next.

In what is proving to be a growing trend, numerous reports have been going out across the west coast telling stories of late-night heists pulled right in people’s driveways as thieves make off with the surprisingly valuable part.

Catalytic converters are sought after by thieves in part because they can be stolen quite easily and quickly using little more than a simple battery-powered saw. However, the more compelling reason thieves go for this otherwise somewhat obscure part is that it contains a number of precious metals.

These parts contain palladium, platinum and rhodium – highly valuable metals used to reduce the toxicity of gases produced by the vehicle’s engine. Palladium can often cost more than gold.

“Palladium is in the platinum family of metals, and jewellery connoisseurs know it as an alternative to gold or platinum,” states an article on Fortune.com from February 2019. “Its catalytic properties also make it hugely valuable to the automotive industry.”

Thieves have been known to make anywhere from $5 for the scrap value of the part to more than $600, taking into consideration the value of the metals.

Numbers from B.C.’s provincial insurance corporation claim that catalytic converter thefts have cost ICBC $1.3 million this year, or an average of almost $2,100 each.

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