Toronto police are warning of a spike in car theft after more than 30 reports of similar incidents have been received in the past six weeks.
Nicole Wood left her Hyundai Tucson at a car dealership to do some maintenance work, and was shocked to find that thieves had crawled under her SUV and cut off the catalytic converter overnight.
“I received information from the police that my catalytic converter was stolen while my SUV was parked in the car dealership,” Wood told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.
Wood said the same thing happened to her parents with their Hyundai Tucson two weeks later at a different dealer.
“My vehicle was one of five on the night my catalytic converter was removed and my parents’ SUV was one of nine vehicles affected that night,” Wood said.
The Halton Regional Police Department said the thefts of catalytic converters increased during the pandemic, and there have been 30 catalyst thefts in the region in the last six weeks alone.
Investigators said any vehicle parked outdoors was a potential target and that the catalytic converters attached to the vehicle’s exhaust system contained precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium that thieves could try to sell.
“This is happening in car dealerships. This is happening in people’s alleys. It’s happening in rental locations and in apartment buildings, “said Ryan Anderson of Halton Police.
“They can steal these converters in less than 60 seconds,” he said. “They cut it off and they’re gone.”
While a thief can earn up to $ 300 for a converter, replacing it can cost the vehicle owner thousands.
Wood said that while the dealer where her converter was stolen agreed to change it for free, her parents were told they would have to pay for a replacement or go through their insurance.
“My parents are being told that they will have to pay $ 4,500 to fix it, which is ridiculous given that they took it as a problem with the warranty,” she said.
“And if they go through their insurance, they’ll have to pay a $ 1,000 deduction.”
In the United States, some stores now engrave catalytic converters with identification and sell converter covers to prevent theft.
Wood said he no longer thought it safe to leave his car overnight at a car dealership.
“I will bring him home and bring him back the next day,” she said.
If your converter is stolen, your car will sound very loud, as if the exhaust is missing.
Halton Police recommends that vehicles be parked in locked, well-lit areas and in a way that makes it difficult to access the underside, such as a wall or other vehicles, and to use security cameras.