Catalytic converter thieves fired shots after a victim caught them in the act on the city’s Northwest Side early Friday. And on Thursday morning, another catalytic converter theft crew threatened a man with a gun when he caught them under his daughter’s car in West Ridge.
As you probably know, catalytic converter thieves 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.
But the two reports this week, which were documented by police, suggest that the ubiquitous theft crews are ready to do more than steal car parts – and people may want to think twice before confronting the thieves on their own.
Around 2:50 a.m. Friday, a man tried to record an auto theft crew on his phone as they took a catalytic converter from a Toyota Prius in the 7100 block of North Mason, according to a CPD report.
One of the three offenders then fired shots, and the thieves sped away in a white 4-door car. No one was injured, but police found two shell casings at the scene. Cops also found the crew’s car jack, which was left behind.
According to the victim, the offenders are three men of unknown race between 20- and 35-years-old who wore all black clothing.
On Thursday, a West Ridge man caught a two-man crew stealing the catalytic converter from his daughter’s car on the 6400 block of North Sacramento around 5:35 a.m. The thieves displayed a handgun and fled southbound on Sacramento in a red Chevy Impala.
Since Wednesday, police have responded to several calls of catalytic converter thefts in progress on the North and Far North Sides.
On Wednesday, a crew was seen operating near the intersection of Giddings and Hamilton in Lincoln Square around 6:30 a.m. Those thieves were getting around in a dark-colored Dodge Charger.
Around 4:20 a.m. Saturday, catalytic converter thieves were back in West Ridge. A witness reported seeing them sawing parts off a white Chrysler in the 6300 block of North Bell. The offenders fled in a Dodge minivan, the witness said.
It’s not totally surprising that the thieves might be armed. Last summer, CWB shared this video of a crew that openly carried a firearm while removing a catalytic converter in Humboldt Park: