Catalytic converter thieves return to North Side

Chicago’s ubiquitous catalytic converter thieves are back in action on the city’s North Side. Police have recorded thefts of the pricey auto parts in Old Town, Lakeview, and Albany Park over the past 10 days.

Witnesses in different neighborhoods saw thieves getting around in a Dodge Challenger or Dodge Charger. A Challenger was used by a theft crew that police warned about in January, too. A dark-colored Lexus was seen in one of the Old Town thefts, according to a police report.

Catalytic converter thefts have been reported on the 1600 block of North North Park and the 1800 block of North Cleveland in Old Town. In Lakeview, two people contacted CWBChicago separately after their cars were targeted near the intersection of Greenview and School streets and near Belmont and Broadway.

Witnesses have seen the thieves working during the early morning hours — often between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Catalytic converter thieves saw the devices from under vehicles and then sell them for $100 to $200 each at scrapyards. The parts are especially valuable because they contain expensive metals.

SUVs are often targeted because their high ground clearance makes it easier to access the undercarriage with a saw. Victims rarely 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.

Want to make your car’s catalytic converter less attractive to thieves? Try these tips:

Weld the converter’s bolts in place or having the bolt heads cut off to make removal nearly impossible.  

Have 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 (this makes accessing the converter a little more difficult).  

Install a catalytic converter theft prevention kit that essentially places a cage around the part, making theft nearly impossible.

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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 news@cwbchicago.com