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Calgary one step closer to tightening catalytic converter theft rules

The Calgary city councillor behind an effort to curb catalytic converter thefts said that local bylaw amendments will help, but the work on the issue doesn’t stop here.

Councillors at the Community Development Committee on Wednesday approved a series of amendments to business license bylaws that regulate the purchasing and sale of catalytic converters for certain vendors. They will now go to a full meeting of city council for final approval.

Catalytic converter theft has been an ongoing problem in Calgary and across the country. Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong and his office have been working on the issue, first bringing forward action back in December 2022. Later, the Calgary police and Kal-Tire launched an etching program to embed VINs on the converters.

These amendments are meant to regulate the sale of unattached catalytic converters to salvage collectors and salvage yard/auto wreckers. The amendments will also require these businesses to keep track of VIN’s, model, and year of the vehicle from where the converter originated.

The converters cannot be damaged, have removed etching, or be without proof of origin.

Businesses that don’t follow the planned new rules could face up to a $3,000 fine. A business education program is also planned along with the bylaw amendments.

Councillor Peter Demong and his staff have been spearheading this movement since December, and are excited to see it come to fruition.

“Even with these amendments, the thefts will not stop here. We need to keep moving it to the next couple of levels of government,” he said.

“It’s my understanding that this issue has more to do with where the materials being held. Places like the scrap metal dealers and the salvage yards are the areas that we really want to focus on. I am going to continue working with police constables to fully move this to a provincial level.”

Working with police, other levels of government

Calgary police Const. Lorie St-Onge spoke to the amendments at committee and she said catalytic converter thefts are a crime of opportunity.

“When it comes down to any vehicles within the city, whether they be in parking lots or dealerships, it’s going to be a ripe opportunity for theft. Insurance premiums for these dealerships go up and they have to take that loss,” she said.

“We have been working with the Alberta Dealership Association, but that is slow going. I believe that this concern needs to be on a provincial level for changes to start moving forward.”

Police Chief Mark Neufield believes that the Calgary Police Service is getting a clearer picture on catalytic converter thefts and how they happen in the city. He said it’s a huge issue.

“It’s extremely costly to folks. It’s extremely inconvenient. We keep seeing theft rates go up. But we are looking at how people are stealing them, looking at how we police connect catalytic converters that are in people’s possession to those who owned them previously, and when they were stolen,” he said.

“I also think that recyclers are a big piece of this. We’re now starting to see what the numbers are on where these things are being recycled. We’re seeing how much is being paid out. We’re seeing that it’s pretty big business.”

Committee voted unanimously to carry these amendments forward. They will appear at an upcoming meeting of Calgary city council.