The Scrap Metal Act, also known as Bill 9, was implemented in July 2022 in response to the significant rise in catalytic converter thefts in Manitoba. This legislation aimed to combat the theft of these valuable components, which contain rare earth metals and play a crucial role in reducing harmful emissions. The Act introduced stricter regulations for selling catalytic converters to scrap metal businesses, including the requirement for government-issued identification, detailed component descriptions, and proof of acquisition. Additionally, a pilot project in Winnipeg involved engraving catalytic converters with vehicle identification numbers and applying visible paint to deter thieves.
Decrease in Theft Rates:
The Scrap Metal Act and its associated initiatives have yielded positive results in curbing catalytic converter theft. Statistics from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) indicate a significant reduction in thefts during the first six months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Provincially, catalytic converter thefts have decreased by 70%, while the city of Winnipeg has seen an impressive 80% reduction. These figures demonstrate the effectiveness of the anti-theft program in deterring criminals and protecting vehicle owners.
Salvage Operators and Compliance:
Salvage operators, such as Westman Salvage, have expressed gratitude for the Scrap Metal Act. The new regulations have made it easier for operators to identify legitimate sellers and avoid purchasing stolen catalytic converters. Steven Jones, in charge of purchasing at Westman Salvage, mentioned that even before the Act, they had a list of individuals they wouldn’t buy from due to their inability to provide proper documentation. With the legislation in place, maintaining a reliable clientele has become more manageable, ensuring compliance and minimizing legal complications.
Engraving and Paint as Deterrents:
The pilot project in Winnipeg, which involved engraving catalytic converters with vehicle identification numbers and applying visible paint, has proven effective in deterring thefts. This “made-in-Manitoba” solution was designed to discourage thieves from targeting marked converters, as the visible paint indicates that the item has been identified and traced. The engraving and paint act as strong deterrents, making it risky for thieves to remove and sell marked catalytic converters. This innovative approach has contributed to the overall reduction in theft rates.
While Winnipeg has experienced significant success in reducing catalytic converter thefts, the city of Brandon has encountered fewer incidents. The Brandon Police Service reported a lower number of thefts compared to Winnipeg, attributing the difference to population size and criminal tendencies. However, residents of Brandon are advised to remain cautious when visiting Winnipeg, as the higher incidence of thefts in the capital city increases the risk of becoming a victim.
Expanding the Anti-Theft Campaign:
To further enhance the “Save Your Cat” campaign and engraving initiative, efforts are being made to expand into rural Manitoba. Paul Johnson, the past-president of Winnipeg Crime Stoppers, plans to collaborate with car dealers belonging to the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association (MMDA) for the next phase of the campaign. Grant money obtained through the criminal property forfeiture process will be used to purchase engraving kits, high heat paint, stickers, and informational pamphlets, which will be provided to car dealers. This expansion aims to raise awareness and encourage more individuals to safeguard their catalytic converters.
Despite the decrease in theft rates, it is crucial to remain vigilant and not become complacent. While Manitoba has witnessed significant progress in combating catalytic converter theft, neighboring provinces continue to face high numbers of incidents. Maintaining a proactive approach and staying informed about ongoing security measures will ensure the continued protection of vehicle owners and their valuable catalytic converters.
The implementation of the Scrap Metal Act and associated initiatives in Manitoba has successfully reduced catalytic converter thefts, providing relief to salvage operators and vehicle owners alike. Stricter regulations for selling catalytic converters, along with the engraving and visible paint deterrents, have contributed to the decline in theft rates. Efforts are underway to expand the anti-theft campaign into rural areas, emphasizing the importance of sustained vigilance in preventing these crimes. The Scrap Metal Act stands as a significant step in safeguarding valuable automotive components and curbing the illegal trade of catalytic converters.