Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across the Okanagan, according to the Kelowna RCMP.
Several residents have taken to social media over the last few weeks reporting their catalytic converters have been stolen. Security at Kelowna General Hospital also recently chased away a thief trying to steal a nurse's catalytic converter.
"We notice that our numbers are going up. Our investigators are working on it right now," said Const. Mike Della-Paolera.
Catalytic converters have become a common target in recent years because they contain valuable precious metals, including palladium, platinum and rhodium. At a scrapyard, they can range in value from $100 to over $1,000.
"Once they are stolen they are gone and you can't trace them back to where they were stolen from — they are very valuable," Della-Paolera said, adding there are things vehicle owners can do to protect themselves.
"We are asking people to park their cars in well-lit places, well-populated places, in your driveways, in your garages," he said, noting even taking those steps will not fully eliminate theft risk.
Residents should also be aware of suspicious noises, like electrical tools running late at night.
ICBC says claim costs for thefts of the devices jumped to more than $4 million in 2021 from $356,950 in 2017.
Last March, the government introduced new regulations to fight the crime. An amendment to the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Regulation regulates catalytic converters that are not attached to an exhaust system. It requires registered metal dealers to report each transaction, including information about the seller, to police on the day of sale.
"I know a lot of people like to go to Facebook right away, but it is better that you report it to us as soon as possible. The fresher the better obviously. It will help with the investigation. Phone non-emergency," Della-Paolera said.
The Kelowna RCMP non-emergency number is 250-762-3300.