Thief targeting spare tires and catalytic converters in Old Town, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park

Police are on the hunt for a thief who’s been stealing catalytic converters and spare tires from parked cars in Lincoln Park, Old Town, and the Gold Coast since March 10.

In a community alert issued Thursday, Area Three detectives said the suspect, who wears a gray or white hoodie with jeans, struck at least four times:

  • in the 1700 block of North Clark early on March 10
  • in the 1800 block of North Lincoln Park West on the evening of March 14
  • in the first block of East Banks early on March 20
  • in the 2300 block of North Southport on the afternoon of March 21

CWBChicago reported last month that catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across the country as the value of precious metals they contain skyrocket.

You probably already know that converter thieves use saws to remove catalytic converters from under vehicles and then sell the devices at scrapyards or on the black market for $100 to $200 each. The converters, which reduce harmful emissions, are especially valuable because they contain small amounts of expensive metals.

Approximate locations of the thefts listed in CPD’s alert.

The price of one of those metals, palladium, is currently selling for nearly $2,600 per ounce. Five years ago, it was trading for $500. Another metal inside the devices, rhodium, is even more expensive: $29.500 per ounce currently, up from less than $2,000 per ounce five years ago. Last year alone, rhodium prices increased more than 3000%, according to Hagerty, an automotive news site.

SUVs have been popular targets in Chicago because the vehicles’ high clearance makes it easier for thieves to crawl underneath with a saw.

Hagerty reports the Toyota Prius is “particularly attractive” to thieves because the cars run cleaner than most vehicles, so the precious metals in their converters are less depleted than standard cars.

The odds of being hit by catalytic converter thieves are still relatively low, but the cost of replacing a stolen one is increasing. Hagerty ballparks the current repair price at between $2,000 and $3,000.

Anyone who has information about the suspect in the new police alert can contact detectives at 312-744-8263 regarding crime pattern P21-3-040.

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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