2 arrests made in Joliet catalytic converter theft investigation, police say

David Walton (left) and Amber Wilkins

A man and woman were arrested in connection with catalytic converter thefts in Joliet, police said.

Shortly after 7:30 a.m. Thursday, officers responded to the 500 block of North Chicago Street for a report of theft of catalytic converters from vehicles, said Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English.

Officers developed information that the suspects of thefts were in a nearby residence and made contact with David Walton, 47, and Amber Wilkins, 41, English said.

Officers received consent to perform a search and saw “numerous catalytic converters and removal tools” strewn throughout the residence, English said.

“It was determined that the catalytic converters were the proceeds of vehicle part thefts,” English said.

Officers also found narcotics and .22-caliber handgun in the residence, English said.

Walton and Wilkins arrested and handed over to agents of the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force, which is conducting further investigation of the incident, English said.

Last year, Joliet City Manager James Capparelli unsuccessfully tried to withdraw the city from the task force, a move that was vehemently opposed by state’s attorneys in Will and Kankakee counties.

Catalytic converters are devices that are designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gasses, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit organization. The devices contain highly valuable precious metals.

The NICB recommends vehicle owners install catalytic converter anti-theft devices and park their vehicles in a garage, or at the very least install motion sensor lights in their driveways.