Caught on tape: Bold thief saws catalytic converter off parked car in Lakeview

Thirteen seconds. Start to finish, that’s how long it took a wily thief to saw the catalytic converter off of a car while lying in the traffic lanes of Broadway near Boystown early Friday. And the whole thing was caught on video.

The sun is rising and other drivers are just a half-block away as the nimble klepto shimmies under a car on the 3100 block of North Broadway around 5:50 a.m. After he’s done, he climbs back into the SUV that served as his cover and slithers away westbound on Briar.

A witness called 911 as it happened, but cops didn’t have time to get there. The same crew sawed the catalytic converter off another car near Barry and Lake Shore Drive minutes earlier.

As it turns out, the temporary license plate on the thieves’ Jeep is stolen. The Jeep probably is, too, cops told the videographer.

Police have repeatedly warned residents across the city about catalytic converter theft crews in recent years. One such warning went out just days ago for residents of Lincoln Park and Old Town. But the crimes unfold quickly. Offenders are rarely caught.

Cops did get lucky on the Northwest Side in early April, though. Two alleged catalytic converter thieves were arrested and charged. Officers seized a gun and two stolen converters from the suspects, police said.

CWBChicago reported in February 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.

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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