RCMP on P.E.I. say they have laid a total of 41 charges against five people in connection with a number of catalytic converter thefts.
The charges are connected to incidents that took place over the last three months.
RCMP Cpl. Alexis Triantafillou said there were 23 complaints involving about 60 passenger and commercial vehicles.
A catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system and contains three precious metals, including platinum.
"I guess, for the thief, mostly they sell it down the line so that that metal can be extracted at the end of the line," Triantafillou said.
"Sometimes they sell them to scrap dealers on and off the Island. And I must say, in this particular case, we did have co-operation from not only the victims, but our scrap dealers, too, who helped identify and assist us."
Most of the vehicles were being held at Island garages and auto salvage businesses, in locations covering all three counties, police said, and there were 11 businesses affected.
"From what we can gather, they were going in late at night with a portable saw and just accessing, in some cases getting underneath the vehicle or accessing it through the hood in that area and just sawing the converter off from its place within the exhaust system and walking away with it," Triantafillou said.
Police estimate the thefts resulted in damages of more than $100,000. Some of the catalytic converters have been recovered.
Morell business targeted
Lisa MacIntyre, owner of Her Man's auto shop in Morell, said two vehicles on her lot were targeted by the thieves. She said they went to start one of the cars, it made a loud noise and when they got it on the hoist, realized the catalytic converter had been cut out.
She said the experience has made her more diligent with safety protocols.
"We're just a little more cautious. If a vehicle is left overnight or if a customer wants a vehicle left overnight, we make sure it's parked under lighting and in plain view."
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