COURTENAY, B.C. -- RCMP in the Comox Valley are reporting a dramatic spike in thefts of catalytic converters and are passing along tips for drivers to make their vehicles less attractive to thieves looking to steal the devices.

According to Const. Monika Terragni of the Comox Valley RCMP, 15 converters were stolen from vehicles from May 1 to June 4, compared to five converter thefts in the month of April.

“It is a significant increase that we’ve noticed,” Terragni says. “It might be the same people, it might be the same group of people. There’s a number of municipalities and areas within B.C., within the Lower Mainland and on the island that have seen an increase.”

Police believe the increase is likely due to the increase in value of the precious metals that are found inside the units.

“The thieves have to go and steal the catalytic converter from the vehicle, that involves going underneath the vehicle, quite often it is in the cover of darkness so it’s definitely very important to give us a call with any kind of suspicious activity that you see” Terragni says.

Terragni recommends motorists have their mechanics etch a number into the converter so if it is stolen, police have a way of tracking it.

Catalytic converter theft is a problem that Garret Cole, assistant manager of Midas Mufflers in Courtenay, says has been around for a while.

“We see them every year, two or three times per year, prevalent in places that people know their car is going to be sitting there all day, Cole says, noting ferry terminals are a popular spot.

He says the thefts are a larger problem for drivers of older vehicles for which parts can be more difficult to source.

“It can cause quite a headache,” he says. “It’s not an inexpensive piece and it’s not an easy job – very few shops still do this stuff.”

Cole recommends parking your vehicle in a high-traffic area and avoiding leaving it in a remote area overnight, something the RCMP agree with.

‘If you’re parking outside, park in an area that makes the undercarriage of your vehicle less accessible to thieves, whether it’s beside another vehicle or beside a wall,” Terragni says.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia doesn’t have any statistics available for 2021, but says there were approximately 1,025 catalytic converter theft claims in B.C. last year.

ICBC indicates the average cost of each of those claims was $2,117, which is covered under comprehensive insurance.

Tips from ICBC:

  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area
  • If you have a garage or locked area, park your vehicle there overnight
  • Report all catalytic converter thefts (or attempted thefts) to the police as soon as possible
  • Some vehicles can have security devices installed or welded to their frame. You may also want to consider engraving your car’s VIN into the catalytic converter
  • Adjust the security system on your car, if already installed, to activate from vibrations, such as those produced by a saw.