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Oak Lawn Patch reported a recent uptick in the theft of catalytic converters throughout the village. Since Nov. 21, Oak Lawn police have received seven reports of such thefts (see Catalytic Converter Crime Wave Hits Oak Lawn).
Burbank Police Division Chief Mike Dudlo confirmed that Burbank has been experiencing these types of thefts for approximately 1 year. Dudlo said most of the catalytic converter thefts in Burbank have occurred in the parking lots of the shopping centers along Cicero Ave.
Catalytic converters are part of modern vehicles (manufactured after 1974) exhaust systems that aid in reducing pollution. Many contain precious metals such as platinum which make them valuable to thieves. As the Patch article states, the parts have a street value of $100 to $200 but repairs can cost between $300 to $2,000.
Dudlo explained the way these crimes typically happen, “The offender exits a vehicle (usually driven by another), crawls under the vehicle with a cordless Sawzall and cuts the exhaust pipe in the front and to the rear of the converter. Within minutes, the offenders re-enter their vehicle with the catalytic converter, drive away and go to a metal scrap yard for a payment.”
Many catalytic converter thieves prefer to target trucks and SUVs because they are higher off the ground and easier to crawl under but Dudlo said the vehicles targeted in Burbank seem to be Chevy Cavaliers and Pontiac Grand Ams.
Dudlo said the Burbank Police have been in contact with many neighboring suburban police departments and the Chicago Police. “These types of thefts seem to have occurred in most jurisdictions. We have made several arrests over the year, as have other departments, but as the (Patch) article points out, the incident is over in about 3 minutes and usually less.”
The Nationwide Insurance website offers the following tips to prevent catalytic converter theft: