Hold on to your hats, Chicago! Prosecutors on Thursday actually charged someone with a felony for allegedly stealing a catalytic converter. You read that correctly. A felony.
Thefts of the pricey car parts are through the roof this year across the city. The slippery crews, who are increasingly armed and willing to shoot people who get in their way, are rarely caught. And, when someone is found with a couple of dozen severed catalytic converters in their car, they’re usually only charged with a misdemeanor like theft of lost or mislaid property.
But that all changed on Thursday afternoon, when prosecutors charged Diamonte Saterfield, 22, with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle for allegedly cutting the catalytic converter off a Prius in West Town on March 3.
A woman was sitting in her car in the 1200 block of North Leavitt around 8:45 that evening when a black car double parked behind her. Then she noticed someone’s legs sticking out from under the Prius and “construction noise,” according to officials.
Before long, a man climbed out from under the car with an object in his hands. He put a large electric saw into his vehicle and drove away. As he left, the woman took a picture of his license plate and made a note of the man’s physical appearance, prosecutors said.
Then, she left a note on the Prius with her contact information. That info came in handy when, according to prosecutors, the car’s owner discovered their catalytic converter had been stolen and it would cost $1,313 to repair.
Chicago cops traced the black car’s license plate to Saterfield and then included his picture in a photo line-up. The witness allegedly recognized him as the man who climbed out from under the Prius.
Prosecutors hit Saterfield with a pretty heavy charge, receiving or possessing a stolen motor vehicle, apparently under a section of state law that makes stealing an “essential part” of a car equal to stealing the entire vehicle.
Saterfield, who is on parole for a narcotics case, also had an outstanding warrant for fleeing and eluding when police arrested him this week, prosecutors said. He has no violent criminal background.
Judge Charles Beach ordered Saterfield to pay a $750 bail deposit to get out of jail, citing the value of the catalytic converter and the fact that Saterfield was carrying $377 cash when police arrested him.