London police cruiser file photo (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

Spike in catalytic converter thefts prompts warning

London police are advising drivers to park in well-lit areas after a jump in the number of catalytic converter thefts last month.

Since the start of the year, there have been 52 reported catalytic converter thefts in the city, 22 of which took place in November – primarily in the downtown.

Honda, Ford, and Hyundai makes and model years of 2010 or newer are the vehicles most commonly being targeted. While the thefts have taken place throughout the city, the bulk happened to vehicles left in parking lots in the core, police said.

Part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, the catalytic converter contains valuable materials that can be sold to scrap yards for cash. The round canister can cost up to $2,000 to replace. When the catalytic converter is missing, vehicles will make a loud roaring or rumbling sound when started. That sounds gets louder when the driver accelerates.

Police are urging drivers park in garages, well-lit areas, close to a building entrance or on the road in order to avoid being targeted. They also recommend installing good lighting and security cameras outside of homes.

Anyone who hears the sound of electrical tools being used or see someone under a vehicle in a parking lot is asked to call police immediately.