To curb the recent increase in catalytic converter theftsthe Evanston Police Department got creative this weekend.
With bright orange spray paint and a stencil, EPD officers marked “EPD” on about 300 Evanston residents converters in a parking lot in the northwest on Sunday. Catalytic converters are engine parts located on the underside of vehicles that contain lucrative metals targeted by people for theft and subsequent illegal resale.
sergeant. Chelsea Brown said the painted “EPD” tag acts as a visual theft deterrent, making them difficult to resell.
“The more junkyards that know, the more thieves that know, hopefully we’ll be able to deter crime,” Brown said.
Even with spray paint as protection, Brown recommended attendees visit their local mechanic for advice on an anti-theft device to attach to the converter. Some protective measures include metal cages and shields, Brown said.
Evanston resident Patricia Stankovic brought her 2022 Jeep Wrangler to the event, where Sgt. Brown informed her that the car’s converter was covered with a wire mesh sleeve. sergeant. Brown said she tagged Stankovic’s converter across the sleeve because the mesh itself wasn’t 100% effective in preventing theft.
“Apparently you have to do a lot of things… you just have to protect yourself as much as you can,” Stankovic said.
EPD spokesperson Constable Enjoli Daley said the aim of the event was to give residents a way to feel stronger against theft.
“The more people who are aware that this is happening and are actively interested in trying to prevent it themselves, I think the better,” Daley said.
Sunday’s event was limited to vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Ford, Jeep and Kia, Daley said, as EPD analysts found those cars had their catalytic converters stolen most often from Evanston.
Aviv Zafrir, the operator of the Factory Muffler & Complete Auto Repair store in Skokie, told The Daily last month these manufacturers include a higher concentration of the precious metals rhodium, palladium and platinum in their converters.
Evanston resident Sharon Jin brought her Toyota Prius to the event after a friend’s catalytic converter was stolen. Jin said she attended the event after hearing about repair costs for stolen catalytic converters. For her friend, it cost around $500, she said.
Jin said she was “very grateful” that EPD is taking an active interest in theft deterrence.
“For civil matters, for small things, [officers] have always been there for people,” Jin said.
Officers got every car in and out of the event in less than a minute. EPD officer Mike Jones said climbing under each car to spray its converter was a “workout”.
Jones said he enjoyed the relationship aspect of the event and was able to reconnect with residents he hadn’t seen in a while. It’s important for officers to interact with residents outside of active police departments, according to Jones.
“They see us in a different light when we work in that capacity,” Jones said.
EPD held an identical converter tagging event last November, where officers tagged 200 cars.
Brown said Sunday’s event was driven by resident demand, as the latest proved successful based on attendee feedback.
“None of the vehicles we marked had their converter stolen during this time,” Brown said.
Daley said she anticipates there will be another event in the future.
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