Huge increase in thefts of catalytic converters in Coquitlam area

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      Motorists in the Tri-Cities are dealing with a crime wave underneath their vehicles.

      According to the Coquitlam RCMP, there's been a 335 percent increase in reports of thefts of catalytic converters to date this year.

      These are emission-control devices in vehicles with internal-combustion engines that reduce toxic pollutants in exhaust.

      Between August and November, the Mounties say they dealt with 44 such cases, up from an annual average of four over the same period.

      "Our investigators are working to get those numbers back down to their traditionally low levels," Cpl. Michael McLaughlin said in a news release, "but we need the public to take precautions and be our eyes and ears."

      The RCMP is advising people to install good lighting and functional security cameras.

      Parking vehicles in well-lit areas also reduces the likelihood of these crimes.

      In the past, police in Delta and Surrey have made arrests in connection with catalytic-converter thefts.

      It's also occurring in the United Kingdom.

      Thieves steal these devices because they can sell the metal, including platinum, to some scrap-metal dealers.

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