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39th Ward Residents Can Get Their Catalytic Converters Brightly Painted To Deter Thieves

Ald. Samantha Nugent is hosting a catalytic converter marking event Monday with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

flickr/John And Christina
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FOREST GLEN — Residents of the 39th Ward can get their car’s catalytic converter spray painted in an effort to stop thieves from sealing it for scrap metal.

Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th) is hosting a catalytic converter marking event in partnership with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart 5-7 p.m. Monday at the Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church, 5106 N. La Crosse Ave.

The converters will be spray painted red or orange, said a spokesperson with the sheriff’s department.

The event’s goal is to make converters less appealing to thieves and metal scrap dealers, said Adam Roberts, a spokesperson for Nugent’s office.

The spray paint is only visible from underneath the car and won’t impact the car’s value.

The event is only for 39th Ward residents. Registration is encouraged and can be done online. People can also call the ward office at 773-736-5594 to get registered.

The Police Department’s 14th District is also hosting a marking event next month as part of a pilot program — inspired by a similar effort in Evanston — to prevent catalytic convert thefts.

Police may expand the program to other districts if it’s successful.

The Northwest Side has seen an increase in catalytic converter thefts. Last month, the 16th and 17th districts issued a community alert warning residents of two dozen catalytic converter thefts by three men over the span of a few weeks.

The crime is up citywide and 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 the 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 news conference earlier this month when asked about a man who was shot during an attempted theft in Rogers Park.

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.

Catalytic converters can cost up to $2,500 to replace.

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