Thieves steal catalytic converter in Gladstone Park in broad daylight as car owner calls police
by BRIAN NADIG
Two men wearing ski masks reportedly stole a catalytic converter at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday, July 23, while the car’s owner witnessed the incident while calling police from a porch near Meade Avenue and Northwest Highway in Gladstone Park.
A relative of the vehicle’s owner told Nadig Newspapers that his cousin yelled at the two men to stop but they continued to steal the catalytic converter from the hybrid vehicle. The men were gone by the time police officers responded, he said.
A picture of the two men shows one of them holding a reciprocating saw while the other appears to be on his cell phone while standing watch. The thieves had jacked up the front of the car in order to get under the vehicle and saw off the converter.
The photograph was posted in several neighborhood Facebook groups over the weekend. Thieves often target hybrid vehicles because the catalytic converters are worth more money, according to published reports.
The owner reported hearing a sawing noise and yelled at the offenders but they ignored the yelling and continued to commit the crime, according to 16th (Jefferson Park) District police. The men fled in a vehicle described as a black Chrysler 300 sedan with a temporary license plate, police said.
The men were described as Black, age 18 to 25, and wearing black clothing and ski masks, police said.
Since July 20 additional catalytic converter thefts were reported in the 4500 block of North Austin Avenue, 8600 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue, 4000 block of North Menard Avenue, 6000 block of North Oconto Avenue and 5200 block of North Lawler Avenue, according to police.
District Commander Heather Daniel urged residents to call 911 if they witness a catalytic converter theft and not to confront the thieves because in some instances they have pointed guns.
Catalytic converter thefts typically occur between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on residential streets, but in recent weeks some of the incidents have occurred between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. In addition, a converter theft recently occurred at about 11 a.m. at the Village Crossing shopping center in Skokie, according to police.
In a recent 20-day period, at least 25 catalytic converter thefts were reported in the 16th and 17th (Albany Park) police districts.
“They tend to occur in bunches, usually by the highway,” Daniel said.
A man reported that the catalytic converter from his parked delivery vehicle was stolen while he was inside it at about 3 a.m. Monday, July 11, in the lot of the Aldi store, 5001 N. Pulaski Road, police said. The man reported that he confronted the thieves but that one of them displayed a gun and that they fled after they finished removing the converter, police said.
The Norridge and Harwood Heights police departments recently held a crime prevention event in which a “high heat automotive spray paint” was applied to catalytic converters to make them less attractive to thieves because the paint might reduce their resale value of the converter.
Another prevention strategy is to have metal guards installed to shield the converter, making it more difficult for it to be removed. However, a converter recently was stolen in the 16th District from a vehicle with the guards, Daniel said.