Catalytic converters contain valuable and rare materials such as platinum and rhodium, making them a target for theft. (Mission RCMP photo/Special to The News)

Catalytic converters contain valuable and rare materials such as platinum and rhodium, making them a target for theft. (Mission RCMP photo/Special to The News)

Maple Ridge woman has catalytic converter stolen, now car shopping

Long delay for pickup parts caused by rash of thefts, supply chain issues

A woman who had a vital component of her car cut off as she took a walk on the dikes in Maple Ridge wants to warn the public, because she will be without a vehicle for as much as eight months.

Tan drove down 203rd Street and went for a walk with her little dog on the popular pathways in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. It was daylight, at about 5 p.m. on Saturday.

She heard a vehicle alarm, and went back to see if it was her truck. Sure enough, the alarm on her Tundra was going off.

She saw the culprits. There were three men in a cream-coloured, older model Chrysler 300. They had stopped the car in front of her pickup, and the trunk of the car was open.

Tan said her “Spidey senses” were tingling, but she wasn’t feeling like a superhero.

“I’m just a girl with a small dog,” she said. “I looked at my truck, and it looked fine.”

None of the windows were broken.

She cautiously approached the parking lot, and the men watched her, then got into their vehicle and started to pull away. Once she got into her pickup, they took off.

Her vehicle seemed fine, until she started the engine, and her heart sank at the noise. She still remembers that rumbling sound. A mechanic confirmed they had taken one of her catalytic converters.

Looking back, she believes they were waiting to see which vehicle she entered, because they were waiting to get under her truck and steal a second catalytic converter that is underneath that model of pickup.

“They were that brazen,” she said.

READ ALSO: Thief drops wallet at Maple Ridge crime scene, arrested when he returned for it

She spoke to auto service shops, and ICBC, and found she will need to wait as long as eight months to get the part. What’s more, the vehicle can’t be driven without it – or even with the catalytic converter replaced temporarily with a straight pipe.

Tan is now car shopping, so she can get to work.

“That was an expensive walk,” she lamented.

She said this crime is of marginal benefit to the thieves, but has a big impact on her. She was left shaken by the experience, and did not want to give her name.

However, Tan did post information about her experience in social media, hoping to make people more aware of this problem.

Hooman Abshar of Ultra Tune confirmed it is taking months to find catalytic converters, because of the rash of thefts. And vehicles like Tan’s Tundra, and many new models, can’t be driven without the converter, or without oxygen sensors which are also cut off when thieves take the catalytic converter.

Abshar said it’s a growing problem, and Tuesday told The News he had seen three catalytic converter thefts in the past three days.

ICBC reported there were 89 catalytic converter thefts in 2017, but in 2021 there were 1,953.

Catalytic converters are exhaust emission control devices that reduce pollutants. They contain precious metals, and have been a target for thefts because of price increases in those metals.

In March, the government changed metal recycling regulations, and now requires metal dealers to report the sale of individual catalytic converters to police, with information about the sellers.

READ ALSO: B.C. makes regulatory changes to curb catalytic converter thefts

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