CHICAGO - Chicago police are warning that catalytic converter thefts are on the rise.
It's a costly crime that more and more people are falling victim to.
"When they cut the converter off, they do a lot of damage," said Gary Kinsler, Autohaus owner. "This is very expensive. To replace this with OEM parts and put it back to the way it was, it could be up to $3,000 dollars."
Police say the cost of rhodium – one of the metals in catalytic converters has gone up significantly – leading to the surge in thefts.
"It has precious metal in it and right now the metal in a catalytic converter is worth more than gold," said Kinsler.
On Monday, a 54-year-old man was shot twice in West Rogers Park after confronting someone trying to steal his catalytic converter. At last check, that man was in fair condition.
Tuesday evening, police were called to Catalpa and Paulina where FOX 32 found a partially removed catalytic converter hanging from a vehicle.
Thieves can steal the auto part in less than 10 minutes and usually work in teams of two – one person slides under the vehicle and removes the converter, while the second person serves as the lookout.
Gary Kinsler, the owner of Autohaus on Lincoln Avenue is seeing the uptick in thefts firsthand.
On average, he gets about seven cars brought to his shop each week because their catalytic converters were sawed off.
One common safety measure used to deter thieves is a cage or lock that makes it harder to steal. But Kinsler says this isn’t foolproof – and that if they really want to, thieves can simply cut more from underneath the car, taking the cage with the converter.
"We said, how can we slow this down," said Kinsler.
Kinsler and his mechanics came up with a different technique. He said they've already installed it on more than 50 cars – none of which have been targeted again.
"We purchase cable, it's usually 3/8s cable and we'll start on the intake of the car, weld a little piece of the cable there and run it all the way down the pipe. We'll spot-weld it every 10 inches, and we'll spot-weld it on the converter. So now when the thief goes underneath the car and starts cutting that pipe, he's going to hit this cable – this cable is not rigid, it's a little loose so it jars the saw and makes it very difficult for them to remove it," Kinsler said.
If you don't want the cable welded to your car, he says it can be clamped on as well.
Kinsler says the technique is simple, affordable, and can be done at any auto shop.
Police are urging the public not to approach anyone suspected of stealing your catalytic converter. If your catalytic converter is stolen, contact your insurance company and the police.