Jun 16, 2008

Platinum thieves strip cars in GO lots

This a a continuation of my posy of May 31, 2008.

Never underestimate the resourcefulness of a thief.

We get a lot of email complaints from readers, many of the ho-hum variety, but some problems jump right off the computer screen.

Alex Zlatanovic wrote to say his Jeep Grand Cherokee was among a handful of vehicles that had the catalytic converters cut out of their exhaust systems June 4 in a parking lot at GO Transit's Rouge Hill station, at Lawrence Ave. and Pt. Union Rd.

Catalytic converters sit between two lengths of exhaust pipe that run beneath cars and trucks. Their purpose is to reduce harmful emissions.

Lots of stuff gets pilfered every day from vehicles – but catalytic converters?

Stealing one would involve crawling under the vehicle with a cutting tool or welding torch and cutting the exhaust pipe in two places – where it enters and exits the converter. The miscreant would be hard to spot in a spacious lot, but it's still a brazen crime.

Zlatanovic drives a Jeep model, and said at least two others were among vehicles targeted that day at Rouge Hill.

The Jeeps were towed to a Chrysler dealer where the converters were replaced with cheaper, aftermarket equivalents at a cost of more than $1,000, he said, adding his insurance covered all but the $300 deductible.

He said the owners were quoted a price of about $1,800 to install a genuine Jeep catalytic converter.

While talking to GO security officers, Zlatanovic was told about 30 catalytic converter thefts had occurred in the previous two weeks at GO stations between Rouge Hill and Oshawa.

The GO officers said a converter contains small amounts of platinum that can be extracted and sold to an auto parts recycler for upwards of $150.

We checked this with a service adviser at Marvin Starr Pontiac Buick and a police sergeant at 43 Division. Both confirmed catalytic converters have acquired a hefty black market value as platinum soared beyond $2,000 (U.S.) an ounce in commodity trading.

Zlatanovic is bothered by the lack of surveillance at GO lots. He said his vehicle was stolen from Rouge Hill a few years ago and later turned up later at GO's Pickering station, "looking much worse for the wear."

He told us, "I am getting fed up with GO's inability or refusal to put up some real monitoring, instead of just signs stating TV surveillance may or may not be present."

STATUS: Kathy Briscoe, who's in charge of GO security, disputed whether 30 vehicles had been victimized in GO lots, saying only 12 converters got stolen at stations between Rouge Hill and Oshawa, from May 9 to June 4.

She wanted to know the names of the security officers who spoke to Zlatanovic, to make sure they didn't "misinform" anyone else.

Ed Shea, who deals with media for GO, said 50,000 vehicles park daily in GO lots while, on average, only 350 cases a year of vehicle theft or vandalism occur. "Overall, our parking lots are quite safe" – and do have video monitoring, he said.

There is a flaw in Go's stats. If your vehicle is damaged, broken into or stolen from a Go Transit's lot it has to be reported to Go directly for them to know about it. If you report it to the police only they might not forward the info onto Go.

TheStar.com | GTA | Platinum thieves strip cars in GO lots.


Anonymous said...

Andy, what happened to your Hy-Drive post? Did someone make you take it down?? The fact is that the Hydrive units were pulled from the Mississauga buses AND the Oakville buses and there was a scathing report from Oakville Transit, to the City council, that stated, unequivocally, that the Hydrive units provided absolutely no benefit.

Andy said...

I am waiting for a response from Oakville transit. Keep checking.

Anonymous said...

If you have been a victim of a theft or vandalism from a GO parking lot then do one thing. Don't buy any more monthly passess or tickets when riding the train. If an inspection is occuring just tell the inspector that they're better off patrolling parking lots and not trains. If the inspector insists on fining you for not paying then do one thing: ESCAPE the train. Let's see if this protest is enough to change GOs behaviour on crime in parking lots.