Two men have been charged following a lengthy investigation into catalytic converter thefts in the Greater Victoria area, VicPD says.
The alleged thieves, whose identities were not disclosed, were arrested and are awaiting trial for charges of trafficking in stolen property, police said in a release.
It comes after officers launched an investigation in early 2022 following an increase in the theft and sale of stolen catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and contain precious metals like platinum and palladium.
That’s a lucrative find for thieves because, according to VicPD, the metals have soared in value and the converters could be worth up to $2,000 at salvage.
Across B.C., these thefts have reached unprecedented levels, with ICBC claims hitting more than $4 million in 2021, compared to around $350,000 in 2017.
Yet, for some, it could be a costly loss.
“Catalytic converter theft can be a costly inconvenience leaving motorists without the use of their vehicle,” VicPD said in the release.
“Motorists may also be required to pay a deductible to have their vehicle repaired. Vehicle owners who do not carry comprehensive theft coverage must pay the cost to have the stolen or damaged part replaced.”
In an emailed statement to CHEK News, a VicPD spokesperson was unsure if the men arrested were involved in recent converter thefts in Sidney, where RCMP saw several vehicles targeted.
“There has been, to the best of my knowledge, eight reported thefts in the last three weeks,” Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Cpl. Andres Sanchez told CHEK News on Jan. 9.
Police say the thieves are often equipped with a saw-type tool, which helps them to cut out a converter from the underside of a vehicle in under two minutes.
“Catalytic converter thefts often happen at night under the cover of darkness as thieves target vehicles parked in secluded, poorly-lit areas,” VicPD said, adding that oftentimes, the thefts occur in residential driveways or on streets.
Last year, a B.C. government amendment to the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Regulation regulated catalytic converters that are not attached to an exhaust system, requiring registered metal dealers to report each transaction, including information about the seller, to police on the day of sale.
VicPD is asking anyone who sees or hears suspicious activity to reach out to its report desk at 250-995-7654, while those who see someone actively stealing a catalytic converter should call 911.