Catalytic converter thieves roll through Lakeview

Approximate locations of some of this week’s catalytic converter thefts. | Multiplottr

Editors note: After publication, a fifth victim contacted CWBChicago to report that their catalytic converter was stolen in the 3400 block of North Racine overnight October 9-10. That location is about a block north of the School Street incident.

Chicago’s roving bands of catalytic converter thieves made their way to Lakeview this week. All of the witnessed incidents were reported between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., typical prime operating hours for the crews.

Catalytic converter thieves typically use saws to remove the devices from under parked vehicles, then sell them for $100 to $200 each at scrapyards. The parts are especially valuable because they contain expensive metals.

CWBChicago received reports of catalytic converter thefts across Lakeview:

  • in the 3800 block of North Wayne around 5 a.m. on October 8
  • in the 2000 block of West Wellington around 5:30 a.m. on October 9
  • in the 1200 block of West School around 4:15 a.m. on October 10
  • in the 1400 block of West Waveland early on October 14

There is no description available for any of the offenders — but witnesses reported seeing between two and four men operating at each scene.

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:

  • 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