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DeKalb area police warn about catalytic converter thefts

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 10:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 10:52 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – Police are asking residents to report any suspicious activity after four catalytic converters were reported stolen from beneath vehicles parked in locations along Sycamore Road in DeKalb.

During the day Monday, two converters were reported stolen from a parking lot at Kishwaukee Hospital, one from the lot at Wal-Mart and one from the Daily Chronicle.

Gary Dumdie, DeKalb County Sheriff’s chief deputy, said he was unsure if the incidents were related to a spate of similar thefts in October, when nine catalytic converters were reported stolen from the DeKalb and Sycamore area.

“It’s not a common thing, but these catalytic converters can be worth some money for scrap,” Dumdie said. “Or they can be sold to replace one that’s bad on another vehicle. They can be pretty expensive.”

Leslie Piatt, service adviser at Motor Works, 316 E. Taylor St. in DeKalb, said the cost to replace a catalytic converter can run from $400 to $2,000, depending on the type of car. She said higher-line cars can be targets, as well as bigger vehicles, like trucks, that would have larger converters that are worth more in scrap metal, which is found inside the converter. Piatt said the metals inside are expensive. She said the converter is an integral part of the engine, and the part is federally mandated, as it converts toxic pollutants from the exhaust to less toxic pollutants.

Dumdie said a common practice for stealing a catalytic converter usually involves at least two people. Someone may park in a lot with their hood up to appear as if they are working on their car, while they are acting as a lookout. A second person is nearby, under a car cutting out the converter.

“Look for suspicious people in the area that don’t belong,” Dumdie said. “Contact your local police agency right away. It may be legitimate, but then again it may not.”

DeKalb police Lt. Jim McDougall suggested calling the police as soon as suspicious activity is spotted and collecting a license plate number when possible. People who are victims of theft should first report it to police, then the owner’s insurance agency.

“Call as soon as you see it,” McDougall said. “It just takes a matter of minutes to saw it off and take it.”

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