Cops say they saw a 10-time felon trying to steal a catalytic converter. Prosecutors refuse to charge him with a felony.

Dexter Williams | CPD

Chicago police officers who responded to a 911 call say they saw a 10-time felon trying to steal a catalytic converter from a car after he successfully stole one from another vehicle nearby. But prosecutors refused to charge the man with a felony, according to CPD records.

Officers went to the 2100 block of West Roscoe in Roscoe Village around 2:05 a.m. on January 12 after a witness reported seeing someone using a green saw to cut a catalytic converter from a black 2014 Prius, according to a CPD report.

When the cops got there, they saw Dexter Williams, 35, trying to steal a catalytic converter from a different Prius, the report said. Williams ran into an alley, and officers said they found him hiding next to a garage.

The cops seized a green power saw and a car jack that was hoisting the second Prius into the air, according to CPD records. Then, they asked an assistant state’s attorney to charge Williams with felony theft.

She refused, according to notes on the officer’s report.

Instead, Dexter was charged with misdemeanor theft, and he was released from the police station on his own recognizance that afternoon.

According to state records, Williams is currently on parole for being a felon in possession of a firearm with a prior gun conviction. He has nine other felony convictions on his Illinois record, including a gun case, resisting arrest causing injury, aggravated battery in a public place, narcotics, and aggravated battery of a government employee.

Catalytic converter thieves, the scourge of car owners across Chicago, have been a problem for years. That’s because the thieves can pocket $100 to $200 for each device on the black market or at unscrupulous scrapyards. The converters, which reduce harmful emissions, are especially valuable because they contain small amounts of expensive metals.

An automotive website reported last year that 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. Pick-up trucks and SUVs have long been popular targets because they are easier for thieves to crawl under.

On December 30, Chicago police arrested a man after discovering 26 severed catalytic converters in the back of his vehicle during a traffic stop. CPD records indicate that 21 of the parts came from Prius vehicles. Prosecutors charged Darrian Russell with one misdemeanor count of theft of lost or mislaid property.

At the time of the arrest, Russell was on bond for another catalytic converter case from December 3. In that case, he was accused of cutting the catalytic converter from a Prius in Edgewater. He pleaded guilty in the December 3 case on January 6 in exchange for a sentence of two days time served. The December 30 case is still pending.

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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