A program aimed at reducing catalytic converter thefts is now being rolled out in southeastern Manitoba.
Earlier this year, Winnipeg Crime Stoppers implemented a catalytic converter engraving program in an effort to curb the problem of these thefts. With an engraved vehicle identification number (VIN), the rightful owners of recovered catalytic converters can be traced and individuals with illegally obtained converters can be charged for being in possession of stolen goods. To date, over 500 catalytic converters have been engraved.
"We are not aware that any of these 500 converters have been a target of theft," says Paul Johnson, President of Winnipeg Crime Stoppers.
Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen says catalytic converter theft rates have plummeted since the summer. He notes this is a combination of legislative changes, low enforcement efforts and a partnership with Winnipeg Crime Stoppers. Goertzen says this is not mission accomplished, however, there were people just a few months ago who said it was mission impossible.
"But we know we need to keep the pressure on catalytic converter thieves," says Goertzen. "We continue to encourage Manitobans to have VIN numbers engraved on catalytic converters to help disrupt the theft and resale of these parts."
Statistics from the Winnipeg Police Service show reported catalytic converter thefts have dropped since the Scrap Metal Act and regulation came into force. Reported thefts of 280 in March, 353 in April and 283 in May have fallen to 31 in August and 19 in September. Steinbach RCMP are now promoting the VIN engagement effort for residents of the southeast.
"Steinbach detachment is not immune to catalytic converter thefts," says Steinbach RCMP Staff Sergeant Harold Laninga. "We are pleased to say that we are working towards combating these thefts though."
Laninga says they have now secured all of the necessary equipment to provide to participating garages. He acknowledges the support of Steinbach Auto Dealers Association in making this happen.
"As our citizens arrange their winter with tune-ups or change over to winter tires, it is an opportune time to request that their garage engrave their VIN or vehicle identification number on their catalytic converter," notes Laninga. "It truly takes less than two minutes."
Laninga says if your garage does not yet have the engraver, you should contact Steinbach RCMP and they will reach out to that garage.
"We believe this initiative will not only prevent catalytic converter thefts but will also assist us in holding those responsible accountable," he adds.