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Pandemic casualty: catalytic converters

There’s a part on your car that regulates exhaust emissions that’s designed to give us cleaner air, but it consists of some metals that cost more than gold.

There’s a part on your car that regulates the emissions from your exhaust that’s designed to give us cleaner air, but it consists of some metals, such as palladium, rhodium, and platinum, that cost more per ounce than gold.

That part is called a catalytic converter, which usually costs more than $1,000 to replace, and in today’s crime bulletin from Evanston police, owners of nine vehicles in Evanston reported that part as missing.

According to Cmdr. Brian Henry, it takes but a couple of minutes for a skilled thief, armed with a pipe cutter, to scoot underneath your parked car and remove that catalytic converter. And there are a multitude of auto shops that will purchase a used converter just for the value of the metals it contains.

Because of job losses caused by business shutdowns during the pandemic, plus the fact that many cars are parked on Evanston streets with nowhere to go, the theft of catalytic converters has risen dramatically in the past year.

Over the recent long holiday weekend, catalytic converters were stolen in Evanston from the 300 block of Main Street, the 600 and 700 blocks of Asbury Avenue, the 600 block of Linden Place, the 800 block of Mulford Street, the 1200 and 1400 blocks of Judson Avenue, the 1200 block of Hull Terrace, and the 1300 block of Washington Street.

The vehicles included three 2007 Toyotas, four 2008 Toyotas, a 2013 Toyota, and a 2016 Honda.

Cars that are high off the ground, such as SUVs, are the favorite targets of catalytic converter thieves, according to Cmdr. Henry, because they are easier to access. He says about the only way a vehicle owner can protect against a catalytic converter theft, if the auto is left outside, is to park it in a visible area and to make sure you’re well insured.

In addition to catalytic converter thefts, these other incidents and arrests were among the stories in today’s crime bulletin:

THEFT

2400 Oakton

Alcoholic products were taken from a grocery store in the 2400 block of Oakton Street around 9:52 p.m. Thursday.

500 Main

A secured bicycle was taken from a bike rack in the 500 block of Main Street around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

600 Chicago

Alcoholic products were taken from Walgreens Pharmacy in the 600 block of Chicago Avenue at 4:41 p.m. Tuesday.

1100 Chicago

Someone took an unattended credit card from the Jewel-Osco grocery store in the 1100 block of Chicago Avenue during the noon hour on Friday.

2000 Dempster

A registration sticker was taken from a 1997 Dodge in the 2000 block of Dempster Street around noon on Wednesday.

3200 Thayer

A package delivered to a home in the 3200 block of Thayer Street was stolen between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday.

2600 Ridge

Jewelry was taken from the room of a health-care facility in the 2600 block of Ridge Avenue between 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 and 9 a.m. on Dec. 21.

1700 Sherman

Medication was taken from the CVS Pharmacy in the 1700 block of Sherman Avenue around 9 a.m. on Dec. 28. Another theft of medication from the same pharmacy occurred shortly after 2 p.m. that same day. Food items were stolen from the same pharmacy on Thursday at about 1:18 p.m. And at 2:46 p.m., cell phones were stolen from there.

2100 Green Bay

An unsecured bicycle was stolen from the 2100 block of Green Bay Road between 9:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday.

BATTERY

1454 Elmwood

Nsisong G. Ekaneim, 32, of 1309 Oak Ave., was arrested at Evanston police headquarters at 7:05 p.m. yesterday and charged with domestic battery.

BURGLARY

800 Hartrey

Someone gained entry to a residence in a multi-unit building in the 800 block of Hartrey Avenue by kicking in a door and stealing a gaming system between 11 p.m. Thursday and 1:34 a.m. Friday.

800 Chicago

Someone entered an unlocked apartment in the 800 block of Chicago Avenue between 8 a.m. on Dec. 23 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and stole cash.

CRIMINAL DAMAGE

900 Judson

Vagrants set fire to paper and boxes in the vestibule of a structure in the 900 block of Judson Avenue around 4:47 a.m. Wednesday that caused damage to the floor.

1400 Maple

Someone damaged a canopy/tent at a daycare facility in the 1400 block of Maple Avenue between 4:28 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

3200 Grant

A 2011 Nissan was keyed in the 3200 block of Grant Street between 8 a.m. and noon on Thursday.

CRIMINAL TRESPASS

355 Ridge

Michael T. O’Malley, 29, of 3225 Central St., was arrested at 355 Ridge Ave. at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and charged with trespassing on real property.

GRAFFITI

Chicago at Howard

Graffiti was discovered on a light pole at Chicago Avenue and Howard Street at 2:27 p.m. Thursday.

TRAFFIC

1401 Dempster

Anastacio Auilar Lagunas, 36, of 3610 W. Leland Ave., Chicago, was arrested at 1401 Dempster St. at 3:24 a.m. on Dec. 24 and charged with a traffic violation.

1100 Ridge

Jerome P. Smith, 51, of 535 Dodge Ave., was arrested at 1100 Ridge Ave. at 4 p.m. on Dec. 17 and charged with a traffic violation.

1315 Dodge

Douglas Owen Varela, 22, of 2158 N. Marmora Ave., Chicago, was arrested at 1315 Dodge Ave. at 8:51 a.m. on Dec. 23 and charged with a traffic violation.

Incidents listed appear among the official reports of the Evanston Police Department. An arrest does not constitute an assumption of guilt, which can only be determined by a court of law. Court appearances take place in Cook County 2nd District Court in Skokie.

Related Document:

Crime Bulletin (January_04-21DR)

Charles Bartling

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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