Catalytic converter thieves strike Geneva

Geneva is the latest town to be struck by people stealing catalytic converters off cars.

Between Oct. 27 and 29 the emissions-control devices were stolen off seven vehicles parked at lots at or near the Metra train station on South Third Street.

Four of them were stolen off Honda CRVs. The other vehicles were a Pontiac Sunfire, a Chevrolet Malibu and a Toyota 4Runner. In three of the cases, the entire exhaust systems were stolen. In another, oxygen sensors were also stolen.

Damage estimates ranged from $1,362 to $5,000, according to the police reports.

The thefts happened after 6 a.m. and before 8 p.m., in lots on Crescent Place, First Street and Third Street.

Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash said people should call police if they see any suspicious activity around vehicles, "not to just explain it away," she said.

About two weeks ago, three catalytic converters were stolen off vehicles parked at the Metra station in La Fox. And Oct. 22, three were stolen off vehicles at a Metra station lot on Belmont Road in Downers Grove, and a fourth off a vehicle in a nearby neighborhood, police said.

Converters are valuable for the precious metals inside them, according to a publication from Nationwide Insurance. They can contain platinum, palladium or rhodium.

Thieves target vehicles that are parked for long periods of time in large lots, such as those at shopping centers or train commuter lots. Vehicles that sit up higher from the ground, such as trucks and sport utility vehicles, are more vulnerable because a thief can slip under them without using a jack and quickly saw off the part. Nationwide Insurance reports the converters can be stolen in less than a minute.

Nationwide suggests that to prevent the theft, vehicle owners should have a theft deterrent clamp system installed; engrave your license plate number on the converter, to make it traceable if police find it at a scrap metal dealer; and consider having a mechanic weld it to the vehicle frame, using pieces of steel.

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