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Nanaimo motorists can guard against catalytic converter theft

RCMP, Crime Stoppers, Auto Check partner on etching event July 13

Vehicle catalytic converter thieves continue to cause grief and expense for car owners and insurance companies, but Nanaimo RCMP, Central Vancouver Island Crime Stoppers and Auto Check Automotive hope to at least scratch the surface of the crime, so to speak, with a free catalytic converter etching event. 

According to a Nanaimo RCMP press release, statistics from 2022 tallied 119 reported catalytic converter thefts and a total of 6,143 thefts of the pollution control devices across B.C. – an 89 per cent jump from figures collected in 2017 – representing a replacement cost topping $8 million. 

“Replacing a stolen catalytic converter can be costly with the price ranging from $800-$4,000. Crime Stoppers recognizes education and prevention are important but so is identifying and holding those responsible who are involved in this alarming trend,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson and Crime Stoppers coordinator, in the release.

On Saturday, July 13, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., motorists can bring their vehicles to Auto Check Automotive where the company’s  technicians will engrave each vehicle’s identification number onto its catalytic converter. 

“It’s annoying because the bad guys get $200 when they take it in, but the folks who had their cats stolen, they can pay [as much as] $4,000 to fix it,” said Stefan Kennett, owner of Auto Check. “So it’s a big problem and anything I can do to help is great. The police approached us and thought that we’d be a good, reputable shop, something I was quite honoured about and I have no reason not to try and help the community out ... It’s a start.”

Kennett said Vancouver Island Crime Stoppers told him it would also pay for his technicians’ time after he’d already agreed to take on the event. 

Technicians will etch the last eight digits of the car’s VIN onto the catalytic converter, but Kennett said not all cars will qualify for etching.

“With newer vehicles the catalytic converter is in a place that you can’t steal from,” he said. “It would take a criminal about eight hours to get it out. So we’re going to have to pick and choose the cars when they come. We’ll check and see who qualifies and if they do we’ll get it in the shop, put it up in the air and, I’m guessing 20 minutes is probably long enough to get the engraving on there.” 

The event is on a first-come, first-served basis, so vehicle owners will not be able to make appointments.

O’Brien said engraving catalytic converters allows easier tracking of stolen units and is a proven technique to curb catalytic converter thefts. 

During the event, Crime Stoppers, Nanaimo Community Policing and ICBC will also host a barbecue by donation to Crime Stoppers. 

“We’re just doing the one day for six hours or so and we’ll try and see how much interest we get and how many people come,” Kennett said. “If it’s wicked busy then we’ll probably give 'er another try.” 

Central Vancouver Island Crime Stoppers might also host similar events at other Nanaimo locations and in other communities on the mid Island. Anyone with questions about the event is welcome to contact O’Brien at 250-734-5445.

About the Author: Nanaimo Bulletin News Staff

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