The underside of a car. The catalytic converter is missing because, as the photographer put it, "some dickheads stole it."

Photo Credit: Seth Sawyers | Flickr

What is a Catalytic Converter and Why are They Being Stolen?

It contains precious metals that fetch serious cash

Every car person just rolled their eyes at this title, but have they checked their exhaust lately?

If you know, you know. Catalytic converters are an obvious, easy steal.

In Parksville, apparently, a lot of people are “in the know” and have been stealing catalytic converters left and right.

Even if you have no idea what a catalytic converter is, you probably have one. This little car part keeps us from breathing toxic fumes whenever we hit the road.

Although car exhaust might look and smell like pretty nasty stuff, it’s actually a mild version of the toxic pollutants inside your car.

That’s because this little device works overtime to help keep our lungs and ozone layer intact.

You got it: the catalytic converter. 

While it may be little, this car part can fetch a pretty penny because it contains precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Even in small amounts, these metals are worth some decent cash.

And, as thieves in Parksville have figured out, they’re also easy to pull out of your car. The loot is just a tailpipe away.

Parkville RCMP reported 41 thefts of these hot-ticket items this year. Nine more attempts were thwarted before thieves could remove them. ICBC says that catalytic converter thefts in the province have risen from only 89 in 2017 to just under 2,000 last year.

That’s a huge jump!

The province passed new legislation to help curb these thefts last March. The new law makes it harder to sell catalytic converters that aren’t attached to an exhaust system. And it makes recyclers report each new converter to the police on the day they buy it, and include information about who they got it from.

So far, the law hasn’t made much of an impact.

Sergeant Shane Worth of the Oceanside RCMP says to help keep your car protected, park in well-lit, high-traffic areas.

“If anyone has any information about these thefts or sees suspicious activity at night time around parked vehicles, please call …(250) 248-6111.”