After watching a man scoot out from beneath a parked minivan and climb into an illegally parked Jeep early Thursday morning, Chicago police found a cache of apparently stolen car parts.
Officers patrolling on the Southwest Side about 2:45 a.m. were approaching the double-parked vehicle when the man emerged from under the parked van and got in the SUV. The Jeep sped off from the 4800 block of South LaCrosse Avenue in the Vittum Park neighborhood and its driver didn't stop when police attempted to pull him over, according to police reports.
The two men inside jumped out after a few blocks and were arrested following a short foot chase in an unincorporated part of Cook County near west suburban Stickney, police said.
Inside the Jeep, officers found six catalytic converters and an electric saw with new and used blades, the police report said.
One of the converters was tied back to the minivan, a 2000 Chevrolet Venture, that one of the burglars had been under when police approached, according to the arrest report. The Venture's muffler had been cut out and its catalytic converter was missing. The van's owner identified the converter as his. In a news release, police said they were able "to successfully identify and link several victims to the stolen items."
Erik S. Gholson, 31, and Marshawn Green, 20, each face a felony burglary charge in the case. Gholson, the driver, also faces a felony count of aggravated fleeing and misdemeanor chargers of driving on a suspended license and in an uninsured vehicle. He was also cited for traffic violations.
Gholson, of the 7700 block of South Constance Avenue, and Green, of the 11800 block of South Emerald Avenue, appeared in Cook County Bond Court Saturday. Associate Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered Green released on a personal recognizance bond and gave Gholson a personal recognizance bond with electronic monitoring. The men will appear in court again Friday.
Police last week issued an alert warning Chicago residents that "Numerous catalytic converter thefts have been occurring throughout Chicago. After a catalytic converter has been removed, a car will sound loud and 'gravelly' when started."
Thieves target the converters because they contain metals that can easily be sold for scrap, fetching as much as $80. In their alert, Area North detectives warned that the thefts usually take place at night or in the early morning or when vehicles are parked for long periods in places thieves can easily access.