Last year, from January to November 2022, Calgary police received 3,174 reports of stolen catalytic converters, a marked increase from the previous year which saw 1,560 reports. In an effort to help curb catalytic converter thefts, police announced on Wednesday, January 11 that they are partnering with Canada’s largest independent tire dealer, Kal Tire to offer engraving services.

"If an engraved catalytic converter is stolen, the marking will allow the part to be tracked as stolen property through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database," police said. "Scrap metal recycling businesses and private buyers can identify potentially stolen catalytic converters if they are engraved, and the seller cannot produce proof of ownership. In these instances, potential buyers should not proceed with the purchase and must report it to the police."

However, police said that the statistics they have gathered do not capture the full scope of catalytic converter thefts that occurred during this time period.

In May 2022, Airdrie RCMP launched a similar initiative by reaching out to local auto body shops to ask them, when servicing a vehicle, to offer their customer, at no expense, the option of etching the last six digits of a vehicle’s VIN on the catalytic converter. 

The motive for most catalytic converter thefts is due to the price of the precious metals used to make them, and they are usually easy to steal, making them a crime of opportunity. Police noted that their investigators have received reports of thefts occurring during the day, as it only takes thieves minutes to remove them from vehicles.

“We are aware that a large number of catalytic converter thefts are not being reported as people worry they are tying up police resources, or that it will be too difficult for the suspect to be located and held accountable,” said Calgary Police Service Community Resource Officer, Constable Brent Podesky. “It’s important for citizens to know that each report, no matter how small, is taken seriously and helps us develop prevention initiatives, such as the engraving program with Kal Tire.”

Kal Tire Regional Director of Urban Retail Stores, Mike Butcher said that those who opt to have their catalytic converter engraved through the program will have a greater chance of the part being tracked and recovered if it is stolen.

“Engraving your VIN on your catalytic converter is an effective way to help prevent this costly and growing problem, so our teams are happy to dedicate resources to help.”

Appointments with Kal Tire will be available from January through to the end of March 2023. The cost for this hour-long service is $40 and will include a free visual tire and brake inspection. Customers will also receive two small window decals that indicate the catalytic converter has been engraved with the vehicle’s VIN.

In 2019, there were 205 reported catalytic converter thefts to Calgary police, with only a slight increase in 2020 to 300. 

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