Secretly-dispatched police catch catalytic converter thief on NW Side

Chicago police utilized a “silent dispatch” to catch a catalytic converter thief in the act on the Northwest Side early Friday, according to CPD records. The relatively uncommon technique, which can prevent suspects who monitor police radio transmissions from learning that cops are on the way, sends officers to the scene via a computer message in their squad cars.

Maurio Young, a 24-year-old parolee, is now charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempted theft.

A resident of the 7400 block of North Harlem called 911 around 1:21 a.m. Friday after being awakened by drilling noises and seeing someone lying under their SUV outside, officials said.

Maurio Young | Illinois Department of Corrections

Instead of sending the call over the air, a Chicago police dispatcher told units in the area to check their in-car computers for a “silent dispatch,” according to recordings of police radio traffic.

Prosecutors said officers arrived on the scene to find Young in the passenger seat of a car with a box of saw blades in the back seat. The homeowner’s SUV had a saw under it, and the catalytic converter was hanging off. The cost of the damage was estimated to be $7,133.

Young is on parole for a 2021 case in which he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has three other felony convictions, including another gun case in 2017 and controlled substance charges in 2019 and 2020, prosecutors said.

“Defendant is already on parole,” Judge Maryam Ahmad remarked near the end of Young’s bail hearing. “Normally, any alleged violation of state law triggers a revocation of one’s mandatory supervised release and triggers the reinstatement of a prison sentence.”

But, the judge noted, the Illinois Department of Corrections has opted not to revoke Young’s parole in light of the new allegations. It’s a decision she called “interesting.”

She ordered Young to pay a $2,500 bail deposit to get out of jail on electronic monitoring. He’s due in court again on Friday.

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