Jail ordered for 2nd Naperville catalytic converter thief

<p>Mario C. Brantley</p>

Mario C. Brantley

The second of two Chicago men implicated in a string of catalytic converter thefts in Naperville and Aurora has been sentenced to jail in one of those crimes.

Mario C. Brantley is serving a six-month stint in DuPage County Jail, after being convicted of a felony charge of theft.

Brantley, 31, pleaded guilty in DuPage County Circuit Court to the Oct. 4 theft of a catalytic converter from a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier parked in the lot outside Goodwill Industries, at 539 Fort Hill Drive on Naperville’s far west side. Aurora police that afternoon caught Brantley and a friend, Rodney L. Jones, red-handed in committing the crime.

Judge Robert G. Kleeman accepted Brantley’s plea, sentencing him to 180 days in jail and placing him on two years of probation, according to court records.

Kleeman on Tuesday gave Brantley 11 days of credit toward his sentence for time he spent in jail following his arrest, records indicated. The judge also ordered Brantley not to associate with known street gang members while on probation, records showed.

Prosecutors from the state’s attorney’s office agreed not to pursue a second count of theft and a companion charge of criminal damage to property in exchange for that plea.

Jones, 39, pleaded guilty Dec. 11 in Kleeman’s courtroom to a felony charge of theft, according to records. Kleeman that day sentenced Jones to six months in jail and ordered him to pay unspecified fines and legal fees, records indicated. Jones has since been released from jail.

An Aurora police spokesman last fall said detectives on Oct. 4 noted a “suspicious vehicle” traveling on the Aurora side of Route 59. The officers, “knowing we were having problems of this type,” made a note of the car and its driver and passenger, who were later identified as Jones and Brantley, respectively.

After going back on duty following a break, the detectives saw the car parked in a lot in the same area, the spokesman said. They followed as it made its way into Naperville and came to a stop in the Goodwill lot.

The officers watched as Jones and Brantley got out of their car and began sawing the converter off the Cavalier, the spokesman said. They detained both men for Naperville police, who placed them under arrest.

Thieves between July and October targeted Cavalier owners in Naperville and Aurora. Seven catalytic converters were stolen in less than 48 hours on July 22 and 23 from Cavaliers on Naperville’s northwest side.

Those crimes occurred on Brookdale Road, Ivy Lane and Heritage Hill and Royal St. George drives. All seven thefts happened within about a mile of one another.

The Aurora police spokesman last year added there had been “multiple” thefts of converters in that city during the same, four-month period.

Catalytic converters are coveted by thieves because they contain small amounts of the precious metals palladium, platinum and rhodium.

Converters are located on the undersides of vehicles, and owners typically discover them missing after turning the ignition key and hearing a deafening roar.

The local thefts have mostly involved Cavaliers, although the converters have also been stolen from other makes and models of cars. Police have said they do not know why the Cavalier appears to be the favored target.