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Calgary police, Kal Tire team up for catalytic converter engraving

$40 touch also comes with tire and brake inspection and decals to let would-be thieves know the catalytic converter has been engraved.

Calgary police are teaming up with a local auto service provider to have catalytic converters engraved with vehicle ID numbers.

Beginning Jan. 11, Calgarians can book an appointment at any Kal Tire location to have the VIN engraving done. The Calgary police said that the marking will allow the part to be tracked as stolen property through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database.

The cost for the hour-long service is $40 and clients will also get a free visual tire and brake inspection.  Two window decals will also be included to indicate to potential thieves that the catalytic converter has been engraved.

The Calgary police are trying to curb the steep climb in catalytic converter thefts across the city. In 2019, there were 205 reported catalytic converter thefts. In 2020, it rose slightly to 300. The spike began in 2021 when 1,560 were reported stolen. The number doubled again to 3,174 reported stolen from January to November 2022. 

Police said the numbers don’t capture the full scope of the problem.

“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, Const. 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.”

City of Calgary trying to tighten biz rules

In December 2022, Calgary city councillors approved a notice of motion that would see city administration bring back amendments to the city’s business license bylaw that would help regulate the possession of catalytic converters.

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said at the time that this is a Canada-wide problem.

He wanted to see fines increased to the point of a court appearance. Demong also suggested the participation of car owners and private businesses.

“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.

Kal Tire Regional Director of Urban Retail Stores, Mike Butcher, said they were happy to team up with Calgary police on the prevention and protection effort.

“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,” Butcher said.

Police say the motive for the thefts is the price of the precious metal used to make them. The three precious metals used in catalytic converters (Jan. spot price) are platinum ($34.82 USD/gram), rhodium ($12,400 USD/oz) and palladium ($57,206.31 USD /oz). 

The value in a single catalytic converter can be between $100 to $1,000.

Police are also working with scrap metal dealers and recyclers under provincial legislation. In many cases, businesses must document a detailed description of a part, including VIN, make, model, colour and year.

Anyone witnessing a theft can call 911. To report a theft call police at 403-266-1234.