Ottawa, Ontario — Catalytic converter thefts are again on the rise across Canada, with authorities reporting strings of crimes in New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba in recent weeks.
The thieves target the exhaust system part for its precious metal components, which include rhodium, palladium and platinum—rarities that can be sold on the black market for hefty sums of cash.
“Rhodium is about $19,000 an ounce, more than ten times the value of gold,” CEO of Platinum Group Metals, R. Michael Jones, told CTV News.
In the Ottawa area, police say they’ve seen more than 28 thefts since January 1, 2021, with more than 30 vehicles affected.
Winnipeg reported 77 thefts in January alone. Authorities have even arrested suspects in action after victims report noise of power tools in the night.
Manitoban drivers are also asking who is responsible for replacing their stolen parts. The province’s public insurer is allegedly charging a betterment fee for new parts.
“I thought I had insurance to protect me from this,” said Bryce Davidson, a twice-over victim of catalytic converter theft who faces a $700 replacement bill including his deductible and a betterment fee. “It seems like you still have to pay to be a victim.”
Davidson said Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) changed the claim from vandalism to a partial theft. The money can only be reclaimed if the person responsible for the theft can be caught, convicted and repays the cost, he said.
According to MPI, the betterment fee applies to the depreciation of parts on a vehicle. The adjuster looks at the age and mileage of the car. If a vehicle is old MPI said it is likely the converter is too, so the fee is applied when replacing it with a new converter.
“From Manitoba Public Insurance’s perspective, we will cover the cost of replacing catalytic converter again, subject to the customer’s deductible,” said Brian Smiley, an MPI media relations coordinator.