Police announce VIN engraving program meant to deter catalytic converter theft in Calgary

An example of a catalytic converter in this 2007 file photo. Catalytic converters contain valuable precious metals. Thieves typically crawl under vehicles to cut them out.  (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press - image credit)
An example of a catalytic converter in this 2007 file photo. Catalytic converters contain valuable precious metals. Thieves typically crawl under vehicles to cut them out. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press - image credit)

Vehicle owners in Calgary can now have their vehicle identification number (VIN) engraved onto their catalytic converter so that the devices are less likely to be stolen.

Calgary police are teaming up with Kal Tire on the program, which launched Wednesday.

Drivers can book a one-hour appointment at any Kal Tire location in the city to have the engraving done and get window decals that indicate the catalytic converter has been engraved with the vehicle's VIN.

Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle's exhaust system, making pollutants less toxic before they're expelled out the tailpipe. The converters contain small amounts of expensive metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, which have risen in value in recent years.

"If an engraved catalytic converter is stolen, the marking will allow the part to be tracked as stolen property through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database," police said in a release.

Scrap metal recycling businesses and private buyers will be able to spot potentially stolen catalytic converters if they are engraved and the seller isn't able to give proof of ownership. In such cases, potential buyers should not proceed with the purchase and will have to report it to police.

Calgary police say catalytic converter theft is a rapidly growing problem.

There were 205 reported catalytic converter thefts in 2019 and 300 in 2020.

In 2021, thefts spiked to a reported 1,560. And from January to November 2022, police received 3,174 reports of stolen catalytic converters.

The engraving service will cost $40 and include a visual tire and brake inspection.

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