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Catalytic converter thefts on the rise in Garfield Ridge

A surge in stolen catalytic converters has some residents concerned

in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood.

Residents discussed those and other crimes during a Beat 811 Chicago

Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, meeting held April 15 at

Good Shepherd Church, 5550 S. Merrimac Ave., Chicago. Twenty-six people attended the session.

CAPS facilitators Marilyn Koperniak and Marilyn Meyer introduced the guest speaker, Chicago 8th District Police Sgt. Nicole Konet, who reported an increase in thefts, particularly of catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system.{{more}}

Because of the external location and the use of valuable precious

metals including platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold, converters

are a target for thieves.

The problem is especially common among late-model trucks and SUVs because of their high ground clearance and easily-removed bolt on

catalytic converters. Welded-in converters are also at risk as they

can be easily removed with a reciprocating saw.

Theft removal can inadvertently damage a car’s wiring or fuel line

resulting in dangerous consequences.

Rises in metal costs during recent years have led to a surge in

converter thefts, which can cost over $1,000 to replace.

ÒI urge residents to pay attention to anyone loitering around cars and parking lots and to report any suspicious activity to the CAPS Community Policing Office by calling (312) 747-8724,” said Konet.

Konet stated that from March 14 to April 14, 35 thefts were reported as well as 22 instances of criminal damage and 10 reports of narcotics possession.

In addition, there were 10 incidents of deceptive practices, six cases of battery, four assaults and three burglaries. One case of offense to a child was also noted.

Arlene White, board member of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood

Watch, spoke of an increase in graffiti in the area and asked that citizens report any sightings to the GRNW via their hotline, (855) 811-TIPS, or online at garfieldridgeneighborhoodwatch.com.

In an effort to clean up unsightly backyards and alleys in the area, the GRNW has introduced a new program, ÒTake Pride in Your

Back Side.” A raffle will take place to give away rakes, shovels and brooms as an incentive for homeowners to clean up their

blighted yards.

Bob Orlow, senior citizen affairs representative of the 23rd Ward, said an increase in con artists working the area, especially the sighting of two young men in a white van posing as city workers for

the water department. On several occasions, the suspects have attempted to gain entrance to the homes of senior citizens.

ÒDo not let these people into your home,” said Orlow. ÒBe sure to get a vehicle license number and call 911. The installation of Smart Meters has made it possible to make repairs from the outside. There is no reason for anyone (from the water department) to go

inside your home.”

Several upcoming events in the area were noted. On Saturday, April 26, Byrne School, 5329 S. Oak Park Ave., Chicago, will accept electronic equipment for recycling and shred personal documents

from 9 a.m. to noon. April 26 is also Earth Day, which is appropriately tied in to the city’s annual Clean and Green Day, sponsored by the Chicago Park District.

Rakes and refuse bags will be provided by the parks. For more information, call 311. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 3, an electronics recycling event will take place behind the Balzekas Museum, 6500 S. Pulaski Ave., Chicago. The 11th annual Senior Fest is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, May 16 at West Lawn

Park, 4233 W. 65th St., Chicago. This popular event requires a reservation by calling the park, (773) 284-2803.

On Saturday, May 17, the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch will sponsor its third public yard sale in the parking lot of Kennedy

High School, 6325 W. 56th St., Chicago.

The rain date is May 18. The fee for table space is $20. All sale proceeds go to the sellers.

Also at West Lawn Park on Wednesday, June 11, city vehicle stickers will be offered for sale from noon to 6 p.m. Also from noon to

6 p.m.Wednesday, June 18, city stickers will be available at Hale Park, 6258 W. 62nd St., Chicago. The 23rd Ward office, 6247 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, is currently taking applications for block party and garage/yard sales.

The next Beat 811 CAPS meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 20 at Good Shepherd Church.

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