Sport utility vehicle owners in Coquitlam are being warned after a string of thefts of catalytic converters occurred this week in the Austin Avenue area between Mariner Way and Laurentian Crescent.
In five thefts, the vehicles targeted were either Toyota 4Runners or Tacomas built between 1997 and 2001, according to Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Jamie Chung, noting thieves pick these types of vehicles because they are higher off the ground and, thus, easier to get underneath.
"Any vehicle manufactured after 1974 can be a target," Chung said. "However, trucks and sports utility vehicles are the vehicles being targeted the most."
Thefts of catalytic converters have become increasingly common in recent years. Chung said thieves steal the emission-control devices because they are easy to remove and contain expensive metals, including platinum and copper.
Police say drivers can take some steps to protect their vehicles.
Some muffler shops will weld extra metal to the exhaust system to make it difficult to remove the catalytic converter.
The devices can also be etched or engraved with a licence plate number that identifies the rightful owner should the item be recovered by police.
Vehicles should also be parked in garages whenever possible, Chung added.
A motorist who has had a catalytic converter stolen will likely realize they have been robbed when they start their engine. Without the device, the vehicle sounds like it is operating without a muffler, making a deep, loud noise.
Coquitlam RCMP is urging Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam residents to call 604-945-1550 if they see any suspicious activity and to call 911 if they see a crime in progress. Those who have information about the recent thefts can also contact Crime Stoppers anonymously by calling 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or by going to www.solvecrime.ca.
Coquitlam RCMP is searching for a suspect after the Subway in the 100-block of Schoolhouse Street was robbed by a baton-wielding thief Wednesday night.
Cpl. Jamie Chung told The Tri-City News a Caucasian man in his late 20s with a slim build wearing a black hoodie brandished the weapon and demanded money.
"The employees did the right thing by co-operating with the suspect," he said. "He took the money from the till and fled on foot."
The robbery section has taken over the investigation.