A string of thefts of catalytic converters, an expensive auto part, in the Skokie area has caused headaches in the past two weeks. Victimized auto owners are faced with a significant replacement cost.
Ron Lundin, owner of Lin-Mar Motors in Morton Grove, said it would cost $997, including labor and taxes, to replace a catalytic converter on an Acura MDX, and that the part alone costs $700.
On a Ford F150 pickup truck, the cost could run from $1,200 to $1,500, he said.
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"They can come in there with a cordless saw and saw it off," he said. "It takes three minutes."
Skokie police announced Wednesday evening they had arrested and charged two suspects found with five stolen catalytic converters.
However, because catalytic converters contain expensive materials, it's worth knowing about them to protect yourself from theft. Following is information provided by the Village of Skokie.
What are they?
The catalytic converter is an emissions-control device that contains precious metals that act as catalysts. When hot exhaust enters the converter, a chemical reaction occurs that renders toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, into less harmful emissions. Cars produced in the United States and made after 1975 have a catalytic converter as part of the exhaust system.
Why are people stealing them?
Numerous catalytic converter thefts have been occurring in the Chicagoland area. Theft is occurring regionally due to the high exchange rate for scrap metals, as catalytic converters contain significant amounts of platinum, palladium or rhodium. After a catalytic converter has been removed, a car will sound loud and “gravelly” when started.
Catalytic converter thefts typically occur when vehicles are parked for prolonged periods in large lots such as shopping centers, mass transit commuter lots or company parking lots.
Tips to prevent theft
To prevent catalytic converter theft, use common sense and follow these tips:
· Always park in well-lighted areas
· At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or near an access road with a lot of traffic
· If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that's busy during the day and secured at night
· Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable
· Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with just the slightest motion
· Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with hardened steel welded to the frame
· Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online
For more information, please contact the Skokie Police Crime Prevention Division at 847/982-5919.