Will Canada’s Plan For Catalytic Converter Thefts Work?

Montreal, Canada, has a plan for the huge spike in catalytic converter thefts. At first brush, it seems so simple. But will it work? Montreal is having motorists register their catalytic converters. 

Canada is engraving catalytic converters with ID numbers

technician removing a catalytic converter
Kevin Doyle from Mad Hatter Muffler shop works on replacing a catalytic converter on a truck | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

To begin registering cats three sites in Montreal were set up. Car owners were asked to drive to one of them for cat registration according to the Montreal Gazette. Owners were given an ID sticker and had their catalytic converters engraved with an ID number.

The number corresponds with a QR code assigned to an owner’s pertinent info. With the ID number, the police will be able to determine ownership and get the cat back to its owner. In the past, if police uncovered stolen cats it was almost impossible to even determine what car they came off of.

“Catalytic converters have been stolen for years,” the national director of investigative services at the Insurance Bureau of Canada told CBC News. “The difference lately is the price of precious metals, and obviously it’s the precious metals inside those catalytic converters that they’re looking to steal and then sell on the black market.”

many tested catalytic converters
Catalytic converters being readied for removal of precious metals | Zucchi Uwe/picture alliance via Getty Images

Since catalytic converter thefts have spiked something had to be done. It is just as bad in Canada as it is in the US. Because cats contain small amounts of rare metals they are expensive, so they have value to thieves. Contained inside of the cats are precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium

The other reason cats are getting stolen in record numbers is because they’re easy to steal. Especially, under trucks, there is plenty of room to hacksaw the cat out of the vehicle. Because thieves are under the car or truck, they are mostly hidden.

Thieves can then sell the cats to scrap metal dealers which have no way of determining if the cats are stolen. Now they will. The rare metals contained inside of the cats have a higher value than gold according to police. 

Do you think the US should adopt Canada’s catalytic converter theft program?

a catalytic converter being removed
A muffler shop employee illegally removes a catalytic converter from a car | James L. Amos/Corbis via Getty Images

Should the US adopt Canada’s registration idea? Guns, bicycles, cars, and more are all registered. Or should cat manufacturers stamp some identification onto each component inside of a cat? It does seem negligent that manufacturers don’t make it almost impossible for thieves to steal cats. 

One easy way to tell if this works will be to see the number of thefts after one year. If it proves to be a deterrent, then the US should follow Canada’s lead, or manufacturers should stamp all catalytic converter components. Otherwise, it doesn’t appear the problem is going away any time soon.

RELATED: What Your Catalytic Converter Does and Why You Should Replace It Now