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Burnaby man charged in Coquitlam catalytic converter theft

Christopher Gagne struck police cars while trying to flee the scene in another vehicle.

Eight charges were recently laid against a Burnaby man who stole a catalytic converter off a vehicle in the Tri-Cities this past weekend.

Christopher Gagne, in another vehicle, crashed into police cruisers responding to the incident as he tried to flee the scene.

As it turns out, according to the charges, the 26-year-old was also breaking his probation order and had a false piece of ID with him.

Coquitlam RCMP's property crime team (PCT), while investigating a series of related thefts in their jurisdiction, were on patrol on Sunday (Feb. 5) when they saw a man stealing a catalytic converter from a vehicle.

The incident took place near the Coquitlam-Port Moody border, explained spokesperson Cpl. Alexa Hodgins in a news release today (Feb. 8).

The suspect then fled in a vehicle after police attempted to stop him. However, he ended up driving into the responding cop cars.

"Police located a stolen catalytic converter inside the vehicle following the arrest of the driver," said Hodgins.

"Police submitted a report to crown counsel recommending numerous charges."

Gagne was charged in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on Monday (Feb. 6) with the following:

  • Two counts = mischief to property over $5,000
  • One count = theft under $5,000
  • One count = dangerous operation of a vehicle
  • One count = flight from police
  • One count = deal with identity document without lawful excuse
  • One count = breach of probation order
  • One count = breach of undertaking

Gagne has since been released from police custody until his next court appearance scheduled for Feb. 16.

The incident was publicly announced a week after Coquitlam RCMP released video of another recent catalytic converter theft alerting in local drivers of an uptick in related crimes.

On Jan. 15, a man was caught on home security camera in Austin Heights stealing a catalytic converter — only needing a minute to pull up to the residence, cut off the device and flee in getaway vehicle.

"Catalytic converter thefts can be done relatively quickly by thieves," Hodgins said in an earlier statement, adding that parking a vehicle in a way that's accessible from all angles make a thief's job easier.

@tricitynews Catalytic converter theft. 🚗 #tricitynews #coquitlam #rcmp #catalyticconverter #catalyticconverterthefts #catalyticconverter ♬ Fast And Furious - Brian Tyler

Catalytic converters contain metals that have increased in value in recent years, making them a prime target for thieves.

Mounties are strongly encouraging vehicle owners to take every precaution necessary to prevent possible theft, including:

  • Park in a secure garage, underground or behind a locked fence
    • If this isn’t an option park in a well-lit and well-populated area
  • Park your vehicle in a manner where it may be difficult to gain access under your car
    • When possible park against a wall or close to other vehicles
  • Install theft deterrents
    • Wire cages, alarms and straps
  • Speak with your mechanic regarding prevention measures
    • Bolts can be welded and an identification number could be etched onto the car part making it more difficult for thieves to sell.
  • Install theft prevention measures around your home
    • Motion activated lighting, functional security cameras or trimming bushes and shrubs around vehicles to increase the street view of your vehicles
  • Call 911 right away if you witness a theft in progress

Anyone with more information on the Feb. 5 incident is encouraged to call Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 and quote file-number 2023-3296.