The Homewood Police Department is investigating three incidents at Homewood businesses where employees' cars were stripped of their catalytic converters, police said.
The metal thief or thieves struck Wednesday at Menards, 17545 Halsted St.; Kmart Supercenter, 17550 Halsted St.; and Home Depot, 17845 Halsted St., in each case targeting employee vehicles parked in outlying lots, according to the report.
In the theft at Menards, a woman discovered that someone had used a cutting tool to remove the catalytic converter from her vehicle parked in an outer lot sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., police said. The replacement cost was estimated at $500.
At Kmart, a parking lot security camera captured the image of a dark-colored van parking near an employee's car at 8:37 a.m. and leaving just eight minutes later. The employee, a Chicago Heights resident, discovered numerous wires dangling from the undercarriage of his vehicle and his catalytic converter missing, with the damage again estimated at $500.
At Home Depot, two employees discovered their catalytic converters missing, with the time of the theft estimated to be between 5:30 a.m. and noon, police said.
Nationally known metal theft expert Gary Bush, director of material theft prevention at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISR), said these thefts reflect an ongoing national trend.
"Sadly, I have heard of similar incidents,” Bush said. “Any vehicle unattended is a potential target, although it seems (but not always the case) that the thieves go after trucks, vans, SUVs more than anything else—the (catalytic converters) are easier to get to. I still try to promote marking items for easier identification and for law enforcement to register and use Scrap Theft Alert so that the recyclers can be alerted as to what to look for."
According to Sgt. Denise McGrath, no arrests have yet been made for the thefts.