CHICAGO (CBS) — A new effort has been launched to deter thieves form stealing catalytic converters in Chicago.
As CBS 2’s Marybel González reported Thursday night, police in the Shakespeare (14th) District on the city’s Near Northwest Side said the idea came from a resident tired of hearing about all the catalytic converter thefts – and after seeing some suburbs take measures into their own hands by painting the car parts as a deterrence to thieves.
We spoke to one recent victim of catalytic converter theft, who hopes more programs like these gain traction throughout the city.
Mateo Olvera Sandoval says he has not been able to go to work in two days.
“Normally, I like have to travel ad stuff. I’ve had to call into the head coach and be like: ‘Hey, I can’t make it in today. I had to deal with all this stuff,'” Sandoval said.
He is talking about the loud noise that now comes out of his car, after his catalytic converter was stolen from Sandoval’s car around 4 a.m. in the Pilsen neighborhood.
“It’s just this big empty space at this point, because it was sawed off,” he said.
Sandoval said he was fast asleep it when it happened.
“I was actually asleep, but a neighbor heard,” he said. “He awoke about 4:15 a.m. to the sound of like metal grinding.”
Sandoval is just one of the latest victims of catalytic converter thefts. Data from State Farm show the insurance company has paid out at least $3.5 million in Illinois claims just through June of this year– numbers the company has never seen before.
The Illinois claims figure for all of 2021 was $3.5 million, for 2020 $1.1 million, and for 2019 $650,000.
“Difficult, frustrating – you know, you want to see more preventative measures as well,” Sandoval said.
And that is exactly what is happening. Last month, police in north suburban Niles and Evanston turned to spray-painting catalytic converters to make them less attractive to thieves and scrap dealers.
In Chicago, the 14th Police District is following their lead. This Sunday and the next, they will be offering a free program along with the local alderman – painting catalytic converters a hot pink color and marking them with a CPD stencil to deter thieves from taking them.
Registration is required, and for now only open to residents living in that area.
The 14th District is bounded by Belmont Avenue on the north, Division Street on the south, the Chicago River’s North Branch on the east, and Central Park Avenue on the west – and includes Logan Square, Wicker Park, Bucktown, and parts of Humboldt Park.
Sandoval, meanwhile, says he hopes more programs like these can be offered in all of Chicago to prevent others from going through the same.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” eh said. “Programs like that make me believe like, OK, people do care.”
The 14th Police District said the event this coming Sunday is all booked up – so they are hosting an additional catalytic converter spray-painting event Sept. 18 at Drummond Montessori Magnet School, 1845 W. Cortland St.