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This article was published 30/10/2014 (2112 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg police warn of increased thefts of catalytic converters, car parts that contain valuable precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.
While it is difficult to say what thieves are doing with the stolen units, it is possible they are sold for the metals they contain, said Const. Eric Hofley.
So far in 2014 there have been 18 reported thefts of catalytic converters, compared to 11 stolen in 2013 and 16 stolen in 2012.
Thieves remove the units, which are designed to make exhaust emissions less toxic, by getting underneath vehicles and unbolting the catalytic converter or cutting it off with a saw, which can take three minutes or more. Sport utility vehicles are targeted due to "ease of accessibility," because they sit higher off the ground, said Hofley.
Police are unsure whether it is a group of individuals or a single thief, Hofley said at a news conference.
Catalytic converters can be worth anywhere from five dollars to several hundred dollars per unit depending on the model, said Adam Chisick, vice-president of Urbanmine, a Winnipeg metal recycling company. Different models have different amounts of precious metals inside them, he said, and there are "hundreds" of models, varying by brand of vehicle.
Once a catalytic converter is stolen, Chisick said it's likely a thief would sell the unit as-is to a scrap-metal yard to extract the metals inside. Many scrapyards in the city purchase catalytic converters, and Chisick said it would be difficult for a purchaser to tell if a unit had been stolen just by looking at it.
Police recommend eight strategies to deter theft from your vehicle:
Park defensively: Park your car somewhere with high visibility. Risky places include parking lots with closely parked cars, or places where vehicles are left long-term.
Park in well-lit areas: Again, it's an issue of visibility. Organized thieves are more risk-averse.
Use live video surveillance: Businesses can employ live surveillance specialists to stop theft before it happens.
Stay informed: Local news and the Winnipeg Police Service Crime Stat are good places to learn about theft in your area.
Spread awareness: Let people in your area know if you or a neighbour suffers a theft. Thieves often tend to strike locally and repeatedly.
Find out about your catalytic converter: If it's bolted on, you can have the bolts welded to deter thieves using wrenches.
Get a protective sleeve: Protective coverings such as the "Catclamp" or "Catcuff" can deter thieves using saws. Be warned these are pricey, ranging from around $200 to $700, and in Winnipeg they can be hard to find.
ID number etching: Since it is difficult to tell visually if a catalytic converter was stolen, etching your vehicle's VIN number into your unit can give police the proof they need and track it back to your vehicle. It won't protect against theft, but it can help catch thieves after the fact and prevent future thefts.
Anyone with non-emergency information about these thefts is asked to call the Winnipeg police non-emergency line at 204-986-6222.
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