Catalytic Converter Thefts Are on the Rise & You Can Prevent Them

Catalytic Converter Thefts Are on the Rise & You Can Prevent Them

In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in Alberta. 2021 alone had a total of 1,452 thefts, and in 2022, by September, there were 1,302 reports of converter thefts.

A combination of opportunity and the resale value make catalytic converters a prime target for thieves. Catalytic converters are made of valuable metal components like platinum, rhodium and palladium. The converters are also fairly easy to find and remove from underneath vehicles.

Crime prevention initiatives have been started to help deter criminals and reduce catalytic converter thefts. An example is a program launched by Leduc RCMP in collaboration with the City of Leduc called You Etch It. We Catch It. This initiative is educating not only vehicle owners, but also vehicle dealerships and garages on the benefit of etching IDs into catalytic converters.

Through this program, you have the last digits of your VIN etched into your catalytic converter by your dealership or auto repair shop - at no additional charge. This identifying mark makes it easier to track the stolen converter back to the victim. These markings also act as a deterrent as metal scrap recycling shops look for marked converters and report them to the police.

It is the hope that You Etch It. We Catch It. and initiatives like it will spread through other Alberta communities.

The Alberta government is also working toward finding a way to prevent catalytic converter theft; this includes the Protecting Alberta Industry from Theft Act. This legislation was created to ensure scrap metal dealers report transactions to law enforcement and they use traceable currency, such as cheques and electronic transfers. The act also states that sellers must provide a government-issued ID and that this information, along with the transaction details, need to be kept by the dealer.

Signs your catalytic converter has been stolen

Because your catalytic converter is located on the underside of your vehicle, you may not notice it has been stolen. If your catalytic converter has been stolen, there are certain signs that are out of the ordinary for your vehicle. For example, there will be a loud rumbling sound when you turn on the engine and will become louder when you hit the gas pedal. Without the catalytic converter, the exhaust is not working properly, so it will feel like your vehicle is sputtering as you change speeds.

Some other signs of a missing catalytic converter include:

  • Visible increase in exhaust fumes
  • Strong exhaust smells
  • Missing parts connected to the muffler under the vehicle
  • Uneven acceleration
  • Check engine light is on

If your catalytic converter has been stolen, drive only if necessary and report the theft to the police, your insurance company, and a repair shop.

RCMP would like to remind the public, that if you hear sawing/grinding noises near a vehicle or witness a crime in progress, call 911 immediately.

Other ways to prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen

While programs like You Etch It. We Catch It. may not be available everywhere across Alberta, there are certain steps you can take to help prevent thieves from taking your catalytic converter.

The easiest way to protect your vehicle is to park it in a location that makes it difficult for the thief to get underneath. You also have the option to invest in a car alarm that goes off as soon as thieves attempt to remove your converter.

While there has been a rise in catalytic converter thefts in Alberta, there have been recent efforts across different organizations and the government to combat these thefts. There are also certain steps that citizens can take to prevent crime in our rural Alberta communities.

March 16, 2023