Hundreds of catalytic converters stolen in Edmonton, including 55 this week

Sam Alouan's Thursday started with frustration when he noticed an alert from the security system of his auto business.

Shortly after, he watched a video where he saw two people in the yard of the auto retailer. One person had an extension cord attached to a power tool and half of their body was under an SUV.

Six catalytic converters were snatched, and two more had been stolen earlier in the week while the vehicles were parked on the street near 115th Avenue and 80th Street.

"I felt frustrated. A small business struggling with the way it is right now," said Alouan, owner of Discount Auto Credit. "I didn't know what to do."

Alouan has called auto shops for repairs and has been been given estimates of $500 to $1500 for repairs, depending on the vehicle.

"The problem is not only the catalytic converter, it's also the damage that they did," he said. "They even cut pipes, brake lights, all that. There's even some cars, I can't even sell them now. They're way over the expenses now."

Targeted by thieves 

More than 500 catalytic converters were stolen from Edmonton vehicles in the last three months of 2019, with another 55 this week alone, city police said in a news release Friday.

But four suspected thieves have been caught within the last eight days, police said.

Early Thursday morning, officers responded to a theft-in-progress call in west Edmonton near 94th Avenue and 152nd Street.

A police dog tracked the suspect to a nearby home at 93rd Avenue and 148th Street, where a man was seen coming out from under a motor home.

The 27-year-old was arrested and charged with mischief, possession of B&E tools and possession of a controlled substance.

The arrest came a week after three Edmonton residents were nabbed after stealing a catalytic converter in Leduc.

The trio were followed by city police to Leduc, where they were seen cutting off the catalytic converter of a Ford F-350 in a residential neighbourhood.

Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press

The three men, aged 55, 37 and 32, were stopped on their return to Edmonton and found to also have a catalytic converter belonging to a motorhome.

Police said thieves prefer to target Honda and Hyundai SUVs, Ford E-Series vans and Ford F-Series trucks.

About one-third of all thefts happen overnight involving vehicles parked in commercial or apartment parking lots, police said.

Converters are part of an exhaust system, converting pollutants to less toxic material before they're expelled. They contain small amounts of valuable metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.