Rash of catalytic converter thefts drive one Winnipeg woman to move

Vehicle owners are considering installing cages over their catalytic converters to deter all-time high thefts.

Michele Zubrin’s SUV has been targeted twice this year by people attempting to steal the catalytic converter. The second attempt was successful.

”You turn the vehicle on and it was just overwhelmingly loud,” Zubrin said in an interview with CTV News. “This was stolen from me. This is vandalizing my vehicle and I’m having to put it out of my pocket.”

She no longer feels safe in her neighborhood and is moving. She said six weeks ago the second converter theft attempt was successful but she could not get into see Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) until Wednesday. She does not know when it will be replaced.

“MPI and the repair industry, like the rest of the country, is still experiencing supply chain issues with parts availability, including catalytic converters,” MPI said in a statement.

Zubrin expects it to cost her up to $500 with her MPI deductible and the part’s depreciation cost.

“If I don’t put a cage on here who’s to say that when I come back the same people might come around look under the vehicle and, ‘Hey, another one. Let’s take this again,'” Zubrin said.

Marco Palumbo, owner of Maxim Muffler & Auto, said he gets calls every week from people looking to protect their vehicles from theft with cages.

“After the process, dealing, and trying to get them replaced, they want them protected,” Palumbo said in an interview with CTV News.

Palumbo said each cage has to be made specifically for the vehicle costs roughly $250 to install.

“It has got a series of bends and connections where it makes a quick splice of the reciprocating saw a little more ineffective.”

MPI says catalytic converter theft claims have more than doubled in March compared to the year before.

The Winnipeg Police Service says last year – converter incidents jumped from 336 in 2020 to more than 1,600 in 2021.

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