Lakeview: Catalytic Converter Thieves Back On The Prowl

The yellow arrows point to the spots where catalytic converter thieves sawed through the victim’s exhaust pipe to remove his catalytic converter in Lakeview on Sunday. | Provided

The North Side’s catalytic converter thieves struck in Lakeview again this weekend, according to a man who fell victim to the elusive crews.

The catalytic converter is part of your car’s exhaust system that contains expensive metals including platinum and palladium. Thieves can collect $100 to $200 for a stolen converter at scrap yards, police say. Replacement will cost the victim about $1,500.

Theft crews use portable saws to cut the parts from cars’ undercarriages—usually during overnight hours. They will often play very loud bass music from their getaway car to help disguise the sound of their saw.

“The local CarX and Midas shops say they handled multiple catalytic converter replacement calls Saturday and again Sunday,” according to the man whose converter was stolen this weekend. 

He left his car parked in the 1700 block of West Wolfram late Saturday. By 9 a.m. on Sunday, the catalytic converter was gone, he said.

SUVs are often targeted because their high ground clearance makes it easier to access the undercarriage with a saw. But having a low-profile car didn’t help the victim who spoke with us. He said he drives “an old 2008 Toyota…they didn’t chop the Lexus and Jeep SUVs parked adjacent. And I was parked under a street light with three residential front doors within 100 feet. I guess they know the chances of getting caught by the police are nearly zero.”

Victims almost never know that their catalytic converter has been stolen until they start their car. That’s when they’ll be startled by a loud, roaring sound of their freshly-unmuffled engine.

Some suggestions to make it more difficult to steal your catalytic converter include:

• Having your license plate number engraved on the part to make resale more difficult

• Always park your car in a garage, if available. If not, consider parking with the driver’s side next to the curb. 

• Install a catalytic converter theft prevention kit that essentially places a cage or alarm-triggering strap around the part, making theft more difficult

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is