GLADSTONE PARK — A hunk of precious metal bolted to the underside of most cars is drawing unwanted attention from thieves throughout the far Northwest Side.
Police warned residents this week that 17 cars in the Jefferson Park Police District were stripped of their catalytic converters, which are part of the car's emissions control and exhaust system.
Catalytic converters are prized for the precious metals they contain and the relative ease of taking them off of a car, which can be accomplished in about a minute.
Most of the cars targeted were Chevrolets, including Grand Ams and Cavaliers. A car with a missing catalytic converter will start with a gravelly roar, police said.
Thieves can resell the parts for as much as $1,000, depending on the make and model of the car. But replacing the part can be almost twice as expensive, with some repair shops charging as much as $2,000, police said.
Metal recycling shops are required by law to only accept catalytic converters with proper documentation from the car's owners, police said.
Other cars that are frequently targeted for their catalytic converters are the Toyota 4-Runner, Honda Element and Jeep Grand Cherokee, police said.
A similar rash of catalytic converter thefts was reported at the beginning of August on the South Side near Mercy Hospital.
Residents should lock their cars, set their car alarm, watch for people working under cars and call 911 when they see something suspicious, according to the alert.