Chilliwack RCMP issue warning after catalytic converter thefts at local lakes

Catalytic converters, which regulate vehicle exhaust emissions, contain precious metals like platinum, rhodium and palladium. (RCMP)

Mounties in Chilliwack are warning the public about a string of recent catalytic converter thefts at a pair of local recreation areas.

Chilliwack RCMP say in a news release that they've seen several of the parts stolen from vehicles parked at Lindeman Lake and Chilliwack Lake over the last few weeks.

"Thieves are targeting unoccupied vehicles at these locations," says Sgt. Krista Vrolyk, spokesperson for Chilliwack RCMP.

"The thefts are occurring both during the day and overnight," Vrolyk added. "Chilliwack RCMP are asking the public to be aware and to report any suspicious activity – particularly in and around Chilliwack Lake and Lindeman Lake recreation areas."

Catalytic converters control exhaust emissions on vehicles, and contain precious metals that attract thieves when the value of those metals rises.

According to ICBC, claims for catalytic converter thefts have increased from 89 claims in 2017 to 158 in 2018, 602 in 2019, 1,065 in 2020 and 1,953 in 2021.

The cost of those claims has grown from $356,950 in 2017 to $4.06 million in 2021, according to the insurance corporation.

Earlier this year, the province announced that it had closed a loophole that allowed thieves to anonymously sell stolen catalytic converters to scrap-metal dealers. 

The change hasn't eliminated the crime, however. Earlier this week, Mounties with the Oceanside detachment on Vancouver Island announced that they had seen a dramatic increase in catalytic converter thefts in 2022 so far. 

The recent Chilliwack thefts remain under investigation, police said, adding that drivers can deter catalytic converter thefts by parking in secure garages when possible, parking in locations where it is difficult for thieves to get underneath the vehicle, and installing products designed to deter catalytic converter thefts – such as protective cages, alarms and straps.