Delta police are reporting a rise in catalytic converter thefts across the city, with seven incidents yesterday alone.
In press release Friday afternoon, police say there are catalytic converter thefts taking place in all parts of Delta, though businesses are targeted more than residential areas.
On Thursday (June 17), police were called about two catalytic converter thefts on Progress Way in Tilbury, three thefts on Annacis Island (two at separate businesses on Derwent Way and one RV on Cliveden Place), and two incidents in North Delta (two catalytic converters stolen from a Toyota truck parked in front of a residence on 74A Avenue and another stolen from a vehicle parked in a driveway on 117 Street).
Earlier in the week, on June 11, there was a brazen mid-day theft at a mall in Tsawwassen. In that instance, which was reported to police and shared to social media, a vehicle owner observed a man holding a battery operated “Sawzall” standing next to his truck.
“Not surprisingly, the vehicle owner thought the man with the saw looked suspicious,” Cris Leykauf, public affairs manager for the Delta Police Department, said in a press release. “The man realized he was being watched and went under the truck, apparently then slicing the bottom corner of the fuel tank causing a fuel leak.”
DPD officers, fire fighters and the vehicle’s owner used large evidence bags and managed to captured about half of the fuel as it leaked from the truck. The rest of the fuel was stopped before it reached any storm drains.
Police say the suspect was able to flee the scene in another vehicle.
According to police, catalytic converter thefts are an ongoing issue region-wide as the salvage price of metal contained in the exhaust emission control device is currently considered high, meaning it can be turned around for a quick profit.
Police also say they are aware that in some cases individuals are purchasing these sliced-off catalytic converters potentially for resale.
Although there are no scrap metal yards in Delta, the DPD is interested in pursuing a regional approach to address this issue.
Delta police have increased their middle-of-the-night patrols in targeted industrial areas but, as the attempted theft at the mall shows, thieves are turning to other techniques.
Vehicle owners can protect their catalytic converters from being stolen by parking their vehicles in a garage or well-lit area, parking in a secured lot with a security guard (within view of any security cameras), and reporting any suspicious activity.
Police also continue to recommend that commercial fleet operators and owners of RVs and large trucks have their catalytic converters etched with their vehicle’s licence plate number.
The DPD is encouraging motorists to speak with their mechanics during their next service and inquire as to whether they provide etching services. The DPD’s district liaison officers have been speaking with local service shops who are in support of this initiative.