PC trio catalytic converter thefts map

The locations of thefts of catalytic converters off vehicles in the Carisbrooke Apartments complex early Wednesday morning, Sept. 15, 2021, in north Champaign.

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URBANA — Champaign police arrested three men early Wednesday for allegedly stealing catalytic converters off vehicles at a north Champaign apartment complex.

Jonathan Wiley, 30, of the 2400 block of North Neil Street, Champaign, Anthony Wiley, 32, of Richton Park and Marquise Cooper, 22, of Chicago were all charged Thursday with theft and criminal damage to property over $500 in connection with converters taken off vehicles on Chiswick and Heathrow drives in the Carisbrooke Apartments complex just east of the 2400 block of North Neil Street.

Jonathan Wiley was also charged with resisting arrest.

A Champaign police report said a resident called police about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday after hearing loud power tools and seeing what was thought to be people stealing from cars in the complex’s parking lot.

Police found that the trio had allegedly jacked up a Honda Pilot and were working to cut off the catalytic converter with a power saw. Another converter had already been removed from a nearby Toyota Prius.

Wiley and Cooper ran when they saw police, who chased and located them nearby. Two officers got scrapes and cuts to their hands and arms in chasing Jonathan Wiley.

A department canine helped find Cooper, who was hiding in bushes, the report said.

Anthony Wiley got in a vehicle that police could see had other catalytic converters in it and drove off.

Several hours later, police tracked the vehicle to an Interstate 74 ramp where it had crashed.

Anthony Wiley, the registered owner, had called for a tow. When police showed up, he tried to flee but was stopped.

Inside his vehicle, police found more than $4,000 in cash and saw blades consistent with the power tools being used in the apartment parking lot. There were no other catalytic converters in his car.

None of the men would cooperate with investigators, the report said.

Every major police agency in the county has been hard hit by cases involving the theft of catalytic converters in the past several months. The metals in them, especially those on hybrid vehicles, are valuable on the recycling market.

Judge Anna Benjamin set bond at $50,000 for Jonathan Wiley, who is currently on parole for a 2015 aggravated robbery, and $5,000 for the other two men.

All were told to be back in court Sept. 28.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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