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Car Theft on the Rise

DEKALB – Police need your help tonight solving a car crime ring. The thieves aren't stealing cars, but rather a very expensive part off of them.
DEKALB – Criminals have been targeting catalytic converters.  That's part of your car's exhaust system.  The thieves are taking them off cars parked along a busy road. 

It takes just 30 seconds for someone to steal a catalytic converter--if they know what they're doing.  DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott says it's becoming a problem statewide:  “Some of the cities in the suburbs, like Schaumburg, have had reports of this...so, it seems to be either a ring or two or three groups of rings of people who are making their rounds."

14 vehicles have been hit in parking lots along Illinois 23 in the DeKalb area.  A handful of the incidents have occurred at the Kishwaukee hospital, while others have happened in commercial lots.  Jesse Fitzpatrick works at Prairie Eyecare off the busy corridor: “It's kind of surprising. It's surprising that they've gotten away with it that many times."

According to police, two men have been working in tandem to steal catalytic converters.  One remains on the look out while the other ducks under the vehicle and steals the part.  Jesse thinks having a small parking lot keeps them safer. He explains, “We do have the benefit that our cars are right out the window and we can see them from where we are."

Patti Stensrud attends therapy twice a week in the same strip mall. She would like to see a bigger police presence, but knows there is not much they can do. She says, “You know, they can't be everywhere all the time either."

And police say there isn't much car owners can do either.  Scott says, “There's, actually, unfortunately very little you can prevent.  But you can be alert when you're leaving the parking lot, watching for suspicious people parked in the area."

Police are asking that if anyone has any information regarding these incidents to contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's office or Crimestoppers at 815-895-3272.
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