73-year-old Chicago armed citizen fires shots after thief points gun at him

73-year-old Chicago armed citizen fires shots after thief points gun at him
AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Chicago’s senior citizens appear to be embracing their right to self-defense. Just a few weeks after an 80-year-old man defended himself from a pair of home invaders, a 73-year-old resident of the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood was able to protect himself from armed thieves when one of them pulled a gun and pointed it at him early Tuesday morning.


The 73-year-old man saw two thieves trying to steal his catalytic converter in the 2000 block of North Larrabee around 3:40 a.m. He confronted the thieves, and one of them brandished a firearm, prompting the victim to open fire, a police spokesperson said.

Both thieves escaped in a dark SUV, which struck a parked car as they fled the scene, according to police.

Neighbors who called 911 said they heard yelling, followed by two or three gunshots. Police said the victim is licensed to own firearms.

Kudos to the website CWB Chicago for covering the story, which as of the time of this writing has not managed to capture the attention of the city’s two largest newspapers. Then again, catalytic converter thefts have become so common in Chicago that maybe most media outlets simply don’t report on individual instances anymore, even when they involve a gun owner defending himself against armed thieves. As the Chicago Tribune did report last September:

Catalytic converter thefts have nearly tripled this year, data obtained by the Tribune shows. Chicago police reported 3,924 catalytic converter thefts through July, a steep rise from the 1,410 thefts reported in the same time period last year, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Thieves target the automotive exhaust system part because it contains valuable precious metals including rhodium, palladium and platinum, which can fetch hundreds of dollars in resale on the black market.

The increase matches a trend seen across the country, the Tribune reported in August. Folks who lose their catalytic converters gain a whole lot of headache.

But authorities across Chicagoland have gotten crafty to respond to the swiped segments. A new Illinois law put into effect this summer requires catalytic converter purchasers to keep records of transactions and report sales to the Internal Revenue Service. Niles police began spray-painting the car part for residents in August.

Chicago police will now follow suit. CPD’s 14th District will host the department’s first catalytic converter marking event at 1711 N. California Ave. on Sunday. The 50 spots available for the event have already filled up, but people who live in the district can still sign up for another theft deterrence event on Sept. 18, Collazo said.

Organizers will spray-paint residents’ catalytic converters with high-resistance neon paint and etch identification codes linked to a national database into the car part.

“Until something is done where they’re less lucrative, we’re trying to do it where this high-resistance neon paint is a deterrent,” 14th District Cmdr. Elizabeth Collazo said.


I have a feeling that offering 50 free paint jobs is going to have the same impact on catalytic converter thefts that gun “buybacks” have on violent crime; that is to say, none at all. Clearly those efforts weren’t an impediment to the two guys who decided to remove the part from the 73-year-old’s vehicle, anymore than Chicago’s gun control laws stopped at least one of them from being armed. Maybe being shot at by an armed citizen after pointing a gun at them will prove to be more successful at changing the behavior of at least one criminal, but if nothing else I’m glad that (despite the best efforts of Illinois Democrats) those same gun law didn’t dissuade this 73-year-old  from jumping through the required hoops and over the mandated hurdles in order to receive his state-issued permission slip to keep and bear arms; a decision that may very well have saved not only his catalytic converter, but his life.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member