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Cicero police charge two suspects in catalytic converter thefts

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:22 p.m. CDT

CICERO – Cicero police have charged two men with felony charges in connection with a spree of catalytic converter thefts in the community.

Ricky Foster, of the 10000 block of South Eberhart Avenue, Chicago, was charged with felony theft and possession of burglary tools after he was stopped with 13 catalytic converters in his possession, according to a news release from police. 

A juvenile offender who was in the company of Foster was also charged.

Foster 's arrest followed a lengthy surveillance and bait car operation conducted by the patrol, tactical, and detective divisions of the Cicero Police Department. The surveillance operation was started in response to the high number of catalytic converter thefts occurring in Cicero and surrounding cities. Surveillance continues at multiple locations within the town and at multiple scrap recycling centers in surrounding municipalities, according to the release.

Cicero officials said that have seen a trend of thieves targeting catalytic converters in vehicles and there has been an upswing of the thefts in many suburban communities.

Cicero police officials issued an alert to residents that the thefts were taking place in Cicero and in Berwyn, Stickney and Chicago.

Police officials said the thefts usually occur at night, the early morning, or when vehicles are parked for long periods in places thieves can easily access.

Police added motorists and vehicle owners do not realize the converters have been taken until they start their cars in the morning, or after the theft has occurred, and are tipped off by a distinct change in the sound of their vehicle motor.

Thieves target converters because they contain precious metals that can easily be sold as scrap. During the past year, police in many suburbs have reported that homeowners were discovering that their outdoor placed central air conditioning units were also being stolen.

According to police, thieves typically use one person as a lookout, while another removes the catalytic converter, which can be removed in less than two minutes, officials said.

Anti-theft devices can be purchased to prevent catalytic converter thefts and the cost of such devices is less than the cost to repair a stolen catalytic converter, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Cicero police are urging residents to report any suspicious people or activity and to call 911 if needed. Residents are also encouraged to pay attention to people loitering nearby, and to tell neighbors about the rash of thefts. Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call The Cicero Police Department Detective Bureau at 708-652-2130 Ext. #337 or 339.

Residents in other communities should also contact their local police if they suspect the theft of the units from their vehicles.

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