'Rash' of catalytic converter thefts hits 8 communities in southern N.B.

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Catalytic converters contain precious metals, making them a target of thefts, RCMP say.
Catalytic converters contain precious metals, making them a target of thefts, RCMP say.

(Submitted by Cape Breton Regional Police - image credit)

Parked cars and commercial vehicles are being stripped of their exhaust parts in a new rash of thefts in southern New Brunswick.

The RCMP in that area have responded to 14 reports where a total of 33 catalytic converters were in during daylight and at night since December.

Spokesperson Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the thefts took place in Bloomfield, Codys, Four Corners, Grand Bay-Westfield, Hampton, Nauwigewauk, Sussex and Welsford.

"We are considering this a rash of thefts," she said.

A catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system and contains precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. It works to remove harmful exhaust gases.

Catalytic converter thefts have been noted in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and a police operation in Hamilton last year resulted in 27 arrests and 68 criminal charges.

Rogers-Marsh said people have been targeting cars parked for a long period of time or fleet vehicles, sometimes slipping under the cars, taking off the metal parts and walking away.

"We may have received one report where there were maybe three or four converters stolen from more than one vehicle," she said.

The RCMP arrested two people on Jan. 25 in relation to two of these thefts in Welsford. Rogers-Marsh said a 40-year-old man from Coles Island and a 24-year-old man from Saint John were released pending a future court appearance.

Rogers-Marsh said it's not clear if the two men were connected to the other thefts, so RCMP are asking people for information and warning of possible future thefts.

"At this point, we can only connect them to that one incident," she said. "We're certainly continuing to look at the other incidents to see if there are similarities."

She said RCMP can't rule out that there possibly could be other suspects.

"We're encouraging the public to to report any suspicious activity to police or if they've been a victim of this type of theft to make sure that they call [us]," she said.

Rogers-Marsh said 33 missing catalytic converters is a noteworthy increase in the area.

"Thirteen reports in a short period of time is significant," she said.

She said RCMP are also looking for information about people trying to sell these converters.