Mounties in Burnaby say they used undercover officers as part of a lengthy investigation into hundreds of stolen catalytic converters that they say were destined to be sent to the United States.

RCMP say in a statement that its officers used search warrants on June 1, 2023, at four locations linked to one man, including his home, business, and an industrial works yard.

Police say they found 439 catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle's exhaust system, and most of those are believed to be stolen, including 392 prepackaged for shipment to the United States.

British Columbia police in numerous communities have been warning about a spike in catalytic converter thefts because they contain valuable metals that can be lucrative to thieves.

Mounties allege the man ran a mobile metal recycling business, which salvaged vehicles and legitimately shipped the converters across the border in bulk, but also bought and sold stolen material.

He is now facing charges of attempting to possess and traffic property obtained by crime.

The statement says the Insurance Corporation of B.C., the provincial public auto insurance agency, estimates that in the first seven months of 2023, catalytic converter theft set off about $8.2 million in claims.

It says in 2022, Burnaby had an estimated 725 catalytic converters reported stolen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.