Tammy Aime thought something was wrong with her car after hearing the noise she made when her daughter turned it on one morning.
“I was in the kitchen and thought there was a monster car in my front yard,” she said in an interview with Marcy Markusa, host of CBC Manitoba’s morning show. Radio Information.
“I went to look and my stunned daughter is standing next to a very noisy plane which was my car.”
Overnight, someone had slipped under Aime’s car and shut off the catalytic converter, part of the exhaust system that converts pollutants into less toxic material before they are expelled.
Thieves sell the devices to junkyard dealers for hundreds of dollars. A new catalytic converter can cost between $ 1,500 and $ 2,500, according to the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.
After posting an article about the theft on her neighborhood Facebook group, Aime was inundated with responses from other people who had suffered the same theft.
When she took her vehicle for repair, mechanics told her that around 20 vehicles in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store had had their catalytic converters cut in one afternoon.
Catalytic converter thefts have increased 450% in the past year, from 400 in 2020 to more than 2,200 in the first 11 months of 2021, according to MPI.
Because no one was arrested for the theft, Aime had to pay his deductible as well as an upgrade fee for the new converter, which the public insurer applies to all vehicles over 80,000 kilometers.
On top of that, she has to pay for the car rental, as it will take around a month for the repair, she said.
“So my car is unusable, the cabin keeps filling up with exhaust, and the costs keep going up. “
A spokesperson for MPI said thieves are daring and there is little that vehicle owners can do to prevent thefts other than park them in a garage.
“They will do it in your driveway, they will do it in parking lots, they will do it in broad daylight,” said Brian Smiley.
“An experienced catalytic converter thief can do it in a matter of minutes and he can steal dozens of them in an hour.”
There are no devices that can be attached to catalytic converters to prevent their theft, Smiley said.
Scrap metal dealers aren’t supposed to take converters because of how often they’re stolen, Smiley said.
“Thieves are selling them to someone, unfortunately, and it’s the vehicle owners who are in trouble, and as the auto insurer in Manitoba, we bear the brunt of the cost.”
Anyone who witnesses catalytic converter theft shouldn’t try to intervene, as it could be dangerous, Smiley said.
Manitoba RCMP on Thursday reported a spate of catalytic converter theft in Dauphin over the past three weeks, with 10 converters reported stolen during that time.
The coins are valuable because of the precious metals they contain, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, police said in a press release.
To reduce the risk of theft, they advise people to park in well-lit areas and near buildings and driveways, if you cannot park in a garage or secure building.
The RCMP also recommends parking in an area under video surveillance and, if your car has an alarm, setting it to go off if it detects vibrations.
You can also engrave your vehicle’s identification number on the catalytic converter, police said.
If you see someone under a vehicle during off-peak hours of the day or night, file a report with the police, the RCMP advises.