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British Columbia

Coquitlam cops responding to ‘high number’ of catalytic converter thefts

While searching for the suspect, officers are still taking in a “high number” of reported thefts, according to the RCMP, and offering prevention tips for local drivers.

Catalysts contain metals that have appreciated in value over the past few years, making them a prime target for thieves.

And in most cases, like a recent incident in the Austin Heights neighborhood of Coquitlam, it takes less than a minute for someone to saw the piece off the underside of a vehicle and run.

On January 15, a man was caught on surveillance camera stealing a catalytic converter after detaching it from a vehicle at a home near the intersection of Rochester Avenue and Blue Mountain Street.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Alexa Hodgins said the suspect fled a minute after driving past the residence.

“Catalytic converter theft can be committed by thieves relatively quickly,” she said in a press release today (February 1), adding that parking a vehicle in a way that is accessible from all sides makes a thief’s job easier.

“To deter theft, Coquitlam RCMP advises the public to park in garages or underground garages or in well-lit and trafficked areas whenever possible.”

The suspect fled the scene in a white Ford Expedition with unknown license plates and was wearing a black jacket and black sweatpants with a white stripe down the side.

Based on the numbers

The incident is one of an increased number of catalyst thefts being reported to Coquitlam RCMP, Hodgins said.

Catalyst theft claims in Coquitlam increased from four in 2015 to 113 in the first six months of 2022, according to the latest ICBC statistics.

Those thefts hit an all-time high in 2021 — 181 in Coquitlam with total payouts of nearly $300,000 and 1,953 thefts across the province.

With the numbers increasing dramatically each year, the record is likely to be broken again in 2023.

“We encourage the public to report suspicious activity, including people loitering in parking lots or under vehicles,” Hodgins added.

“Continued neighborhood vigilance is key when it comes to preventing the police and helping to track down prolific property criminals.”

Meanwhile, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody saw a similar surge in ICBC claims for catalytic converter theft:


  • 2020 = 73, claim value – $155,809
  • 2021 = 181, claim value – $298,394
  • 2022 (first six months) = 113, claim value – $269,501

Port Coquitlam

  • 2020 = 26, claim value – $48,680
  • 2021 = 65, claim value – $166,778
  • 2022 (first six months) = 42, claim value – $102,457

Port Moody

  • 2020 = Five, Claim Value – $7,632
  • 2021 = 15, claim value – $23,846
  • 2022 (First Six Months) = Nine, Claim Value – $20,252

What you can do

While Mounties investigates the Jan. 15 theft, the local department also encourages local drivers to take all necessary precautions to prevent a possible theft.

This contains:

  • Park in a secure garage, underground garage or behind a locked fence

    • If this is not an option, park in a well-lit and populated area

  • Park your vehicle where it may be difficult to get under your car

    • If possible, park against a wall or near other vehicles

  • Install anti-theft devices

    • Wire cages, alarms and harnesses

  • Talk to your mechanic about preventive measures

    • Screws can be welded and an identification number etched onto the auto part, making it difficult for thieves to sell.

  • Install anti-theft measures around your home

    • Motion-activated lighting, working security cameras, or trimming bushes and shrubs around vehicles to improve your vehicles’ street visibility

The Coquitlam RCMP’s Property Crime Unit (PCT) and Uniformed Crime Reduction Unit (UCRU) have taken the lead in all overtly reported catalytic converter thefts.

Anyone with additional information regarding the January 15 catalytic converter theft or other related crimes is encouraged to call Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 and quote reference number 2023-1347.

If you discover a theft is in progress, you will be asked to call 911 immediately.

– with files from Diane Strandberg, Tri-City News

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