CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s an aggravating crime that costs drivers big time – people stealing catalytic converters.
Police can only do so much. But as CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, a group is scouring social media to stop the crimes.
Jeep owner Krystal Oyoque was subjected to a double whammy recently. In one hit, two catalytic converters were gone.
“If you look under, there’s one on one side and one on the other,” Oyoque said as she showed Graves the damage.
They were stolen near an elementary school at 10 a.m. Oyoque was in complete shock.
“I know! Right by a school, and there’s a park right next to the school!” she said.
Such thefts are brazen, but very common, as CBS 2 has reported numerous times. Crooks steal the carbon emissions part of the catalytic converted for its precious metals, and the thefts are done in seconds.
Many get away with the crime, even with evidence.
But Oyoque did as suggested and called 311.
“And the phone just kept ringing and ringing and never went through to anybody,” she said.
Her next call was to a friend who she knew was on the hunt for this type of crime data. This friend is the founder of a new nonprofit community group called the Southwest Collective.
A spurt of catalytic crimes in the area surrounding Midway International Airport on the Southwest Side prompted a comprehensive report from October to just last month.
People from all over the area sharing pictures and experiences.
“It helps me out because it’s empowering for the Southwest Side, because I feel like I have somebody backing me up,” Oyoque said.
The information, mainly collected through social media, was then given to authorities at a CAPS police-community meeting.
It had complaints and solutions, including holding scrap collectors accountable for upholding laws.
We sent the data to Chicago police. They reiterated that people should call 911 for a theft in progress and 311 if discovered later.
So far, the Southwest Collective group has recorded more than a dozen incidents.
The Southwest Collective Group is still taking crime reports.