Varsity, Sunridge, Arbour Lake and Dalhousie are among the top five Calgary communities for catalytic converter thefts, and members of city council are hoping to curb the crime.
A notice of motion was brought to Calgary’s Executive Committee on Wednesday, asking city administration to examine potential amendments to the city’s Business Licence Bylaw that would help further regulate the possession of catalytic converters.
Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong, who sponsored the motion along with six other councillors, said this isn’t just a ward specific problem, or a city problem – it’s a Canada-wide problem.
In September, the Edmonton Police Service and Millennium Insurance Corporation launched the Catalytic Converter Challenge with a prize of $50,000 for someone to come up with a theft solution. Catalytic converter thefts in that city have jumped 219 per cent in three years.
Demong’s looking for some kind of solution to deal with the issue locally. According to data his office has compiled with help from the Calgary Police Service (CPS), there have been 2,968 converters reported stolen between Jan. 1, 2022 and Oct. 31. (BROKEN DOWN BY COMMUNITY BELOW)
“The very first thing I’m thinking about doing is seeing if we can raise the fine to over $1,000 – which would make it a mandatory court appearance, which is intimidating to some,” Demong said.
Proof of ownership a big concern
Back in April 2020, the Calgary police cracked down on two local salvage yards for failing to record required information about the sellers of catalytic converters. A total of 35 offences were logged under the Business Licence Bylaw.
“These catalytic converter thefts are very costly to citizens and insurance companies,” says Staff Sergeant Graeme Smiley of the CPS District Support Unit, in a media release at the time.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing that there are some businesses within Calgary not doing their due diligence and in some cases, knowingly buying stolen metals, which is driving the demand for these thefts.”
Later that summer, the province approved the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Regulations to further tighten rules around these kinds of thefts. It required detailed information be taken when a person brings in scrap metal for sale.
Devin Elkin, who has been working on the file in Coun. Demong’s office, said one of the biggest concerns is the absence of proof of ownership for unattached catalytic converters.
“That’s the initial hit that we’re doing is now you if you have one in possession, you have to have the proper documentation that shows the vehicle it came off of how you are, how you are connected to it ownership wise,” he said.
In September, Leduc approved rules that required anyone found with an unattached catalytic converter must have a valid business license for repair or auto parts supply, or a permit from RCMP or face a $1,000 fine.
Preventing the catalytic converter theft
Coun. Demong said he’d also like to see car owners and private sector businesses ramp up prevention.
He said some retailers and service providers are offering free laser etching along with other paid service, like oil changes.
“We’re just going to try to encourage that kind of behaviour from a consumer point of view and retail industry point of view,” Demong said.
He’s also looking for other ideas – from anyone.
“We’re going to be opening up the tap to say, ‘hey, Calgary, got any ideas? We’re open for business,” Demong said.
The notice of motion was approved, but will be debated and still requires final approval at a full meeting of Calgary city council.
The Calgary police did offer public safety tips in their 2020 release. Here’s how you can protect your vehicle:
- Parking in a secure garage or well-lit area that is monitored by CCTV
- Installing an alarm system
- Never parking in a secluded area
- Be on the lookout for individuals performing mechanic work in unusual locations such as in a parking lot or on a residential street, or at unusual times such as overnight
- Reporting any suspicious activity to police by calling 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 for a crime in progress