Council report requested to tackle catalytic converter thefts

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During the most recent regular Strathcona County meeting, elected officials were united in addressing local catalytic converter thefts.

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Council unanimously backed a motion tabled by Ward 3 Coun. Lorne Harvey which asked administration to prepare a report by the end of February 2023 with options, including but not limited to potential bylaws, fines and permits to deter the theft and illegal possession of catalytic converters in Strathcona County.

“With the ongoing issue of thefts of catalytic converters and also that fact of what other municipalities are doing to deter that, I believe that we need to move in this direction in order to deter thefts moving from other communities into our community,” Harvey said on Oct. 25. “This is something that is important for Strathcona County, especially for those people who have been impacted and those who might be impacted in the future.”

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This has been an ongoing issue for the county. In 2020, Strathcona County RCMP reported 79 cases, in 2021, that increased to 146, and as of Oct. 27, there were 115 cases reported so far for 2022.

According to Strathcona County RCMP Supt. Dale Kendall, the theft is impacting both residents and businesses, especially local car dealerships.

After officers visited various local businesses where people said they experienced this theft but didn’t bother reporting it, Kendall issued a public plea during the Oct. 27 RCMP and Enforcement Services town hall in Ardrossan for everyone to report crime to local police whenever it happens. She said that’s crucial in order for the detachment to better understand the scope of the issue and capture data which will lead to more crime analysts tracking down criminals.

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Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium, and are said to sell for several hundred dollars per piece.

The province introduced scrap metal legislation in November 2020, however, the problem has not slowed down.

The City of Leduc and the Leduc RCMP partnered last December in a new theft prevention strategy dubbed “You Etch It. We Catch It”, which promoted vehicle owners to etch vehicle identification numbers (VIN) onto a catalytic converter.

That city saw the rate of catalytic converters thefts more than triple between 2019 and 2020 — shifting from 29 reports to 106 cases. There was no sign of it easing in 2021 with 150 cases reported and trucks were highlighted as the target of choice.

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Leduc is addressing the trade of catalytic converters under its Business License Bylaw — something Strathcona County does not have.

In that city, Individuals found with an unattached catalytic converter must have a valid business licence for automotive repair or auto parts supply and transport, or a permit from the RCMP. Those who are unable to provide one of these documents when found with an unattached converter may be fined $1,000 per catalytic converter.

Automotive repair and auto part supply and transport businesses are covered under their business licenses, and individuals looking for a permit to possess an unattached catalytic converter must obtain one from the Leduc RCMP detachment.

Until the report returns to council in the New Year, local police suggest  people to park in a garage whenever possible, have good quality surveillance video, park in well-lit areas, park close to curbs to deter underneath access, ask a mechanic to etch the last eight digits of your VIN number on the catalytic converter, or invest in a security device that can be attached to the car part.

[email protected]

twitter.com/LindsayDMorey

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