Whistler's RCMP detachment was kept busy with several catalytic converter thefts late last month—three in the span of just two days, to be exact.
Local police responded to their first related call-for-service on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 29, according to a release issued Oct. 8. A complainant reported that the catalytic converter had been stolen from beneath their Honda Element while it was parked in Day Lot 4 sometime between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day. The part works to reduce the amount of harmful emissions found in vehicles' exhaust gas.
Police discovered a broken saw blade, at the scene, according to the release.
That same afternoon at about 3:15 p.m., Whistler RCMP responded to a theft in progress that was reportedly taking place within the 2000 block of Karen Crescent in Creekside. A suspect fled the scene in a black Chevrolet Tahoe before he could steal the catalytic converter from a Honda Element, but not before causing extensive damage to the Honda's exhaust.
Police say the suspect was described as a Caucasian man wearing dark clothing and blue latex gloves.
According to Whistler RCMP Cpl. Nate Miller, there was no registered owner associated with the suspect’s Tahoe’s licence plates.
The following day, Whistler RCMP received a report about a third catalytic converter theft in Whistler, this time affecting a Honda Civic parked in the 2000 block of Squaw Valley Crescent (the Creekside street that Whistler council agreed in July to rename Chamonix Crescent). According to police, the vehicle had not been used for several weeks, making it difficult to pinpoint a timeframe during which the part may have been stolen.
According to the B.C. RCMP, rates of catalytic converter thefts have steadily risen across the province in recent years. In 2015, ICBC received 146 Catalytic converter theft claims, a number police said increased to 1,546 in 2020. The part is often targeted for the precious and in-demand metals it contains.
Whistler police have not yet identified a suspect connected to the thefts. The RCMP asks those with any related information to call the detachment at 604-932-3044, or Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 to remain anonymous.
Miller also urges locals and visitors to get in touch with police immediately if they observe any suspicious behaviour.
“Call us right away, because it really doesn't take long for someone to climb out of their vehicle and cut one of these things off,” Miller explained. “It's pretty brazen when they're [stealing catalytic converters] in day lots, in the daytime—that's absurd—but so many people just don't report suspicious behaviour.”
Designated a bilingual detachment, the Whistler RCMP’s releases are often further delayed by having to be translated by French-speaking members working outside of the detachment.