Catalytic converter thieves appear to be getting more brazen as reports of the thefts continue to increase across the country, according to law enforcement.
In one recent incident, office workers in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago witnessed several men apparently steal a catalytic converter from a Toyota Prius Wednesday afternoon.
The car’s owner, who asked not to be identified, said police were notified. However, Chicago Police said no one is in custody.
“What surprised me more than anything else was the fact that people are so bold as to do this in broad daylight in a public parking lot,” the man said.
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Frank Guske, of Wells Automotive in Chicago, said cars like the Toyota Prius and certain Mitsubishi models are being increasingly targeted.
“The precious metals that are in the catalytic converter command a high price at a scrap yard or a salvage yard,” Guske said. “So unfortunately, for your $2,500 damage on your car, they’ll realize a hundred to $150 in cash.”
The catalytic converter attaches to a vehicle’s exhaust system and is designed to convert environmentally hazardous exhaust to less harmful gasses.
The Schaumburg Police Department said it has responded to increased catalytic converter thefts, and explained a skilled thief can remove a catalytic converter in less than 90 seconds with a few simple tools.
According to Schaumburg police, you can help protect your car by parking in a garage or well-lit area, parking near a security camera and engraving your license plate number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the catalytic converter.
Some Illinois lawmakers favor a proposed law that would require scrap dealers to record the driver’s license of the person providing the converter.
“Catalytic converter theft is not a problem that simply affects Chicago. Up and down Illinois, communities are feeling the effects of these crimes,” said Illinois Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago. “We cannot allow our state to become a place where drivers feel unsafe just parking outside.”