LOGAN SQUARE — As catalytic converter thefts plague the city, police in the Logan Square and Wicker Park area are rolling out a program designed to deter thieves from swiping the coveted car parts.
Residents of the Shakespeare (14th) Police District can get their catalytic converters spray-painted and marked at a police event 10 a.m. Sept. 11 at Moos Elementary School’s parking lot, 1711 N. California Ave.
The goal of the pilot program — inspired by a similar effort in Evanston — is to cut down on catalytic converter thefts by making the parts less attractive to thieves and scrap dealers, said District Sgt. Mike Edens, who helped organize the program.
“We’re trying to add a level of deterrence,” Edens said. “The idea of adding a marking is a way to make it more identifiable to catalytic converter thieves. If it’s being transported to a metal yard or they’re stopped by police, they’ll have a bright-colored catalytic converter in their possession.”
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Catalytic converter theft is on the rise nationwide. State Farm paid out $21 million for stolen catalytic converters in the first six months of 2021, compared to $33 million in all of 2020, according to the Sun-Times.
Illinois ranked fifth for highest number of claims, the Sun-Times reported.
The thefts have increased because the car parts contain rhodium, a precious metal that has skyrocketed in value in recent years, Supt. David Brown said at a press conference this week when asked about a man who was shot during an attempted theft in Rogers Park Monday.
Catalytic converters are part of a car’s exhaust system and convert toxic gases into less dangerous gases. Cars with missing converters often pollute more and have excessively loud engine noise, which worsens when drivers speed up.
Police data shows nearly half of the “thefts from auto” crimes that occurred in the Shakespeare police district in recent months were people stealing catalytic converters, Edens said.
At the police district’s event next month, volunteers will spray-paint residents’ catalytic converters hot pink and mark the devices with a “CPD” stencil, Edens said. The markings are only visible if you’re underneath your car.
The Shakespeare Police District is also looking into putting a marker on each catalytic converter that can be traced back to its owner as a crime-fighting tool, Edens said.
Edens said they hope to expand the program to other police districts if it’s deemed effective.
Logan Square resident Cherie Travis pitched the idea of marking catalytic converters to the Shakespeare Police District after noticing an uptick in victims’ posts on neighborhood Facebook pages.
“The people that are stealing them are getting a small amount of money. The people getting victimized — it’s very painful for them because it’s an expensive car repair,” Travis said.
Catalytic converters can cost up to $2,500 to replace.
“If it helps one person who is leaving to take their kids to school in the morning, or go to their job, and doesn’t find that all of a sudden their car is sounding like a jet engine, then that’ll make me feel good,” Travis said. “People are having a rough time as it is, without being the victim of a really stupid theft like this.”
Residents who wish to participate in the Sept. 11 event must pre-register. To do so, or to find out more information, email CAPS.014District@chicagopolice.org.
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