At least 19 cars set on fire

June 23, 2009 3:51:42 PM PDT
Chicago police and fire investigators are looking into a series of vehicle fires that they say were intentionally set. At least 19 vehicles were torched on the city's west and northwest sides Tuesday morning.

Police believe the fires are gang related. However, it appears some of the cars were randomly chosen.

The vehicles were torched in a similar way. Police say gasoline was poured on the front hood and then set on fire.

The crimes took place between 4 and 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

Alex Jenski came home from his bartending job at 2 in the morning. He had to circle a few blocks before finding a parking spot on the 1800-block of West Erie. On Tuesday morning, Jenski discovered how unlucky that spot was.

"I didn't think anything about it. I didn't turn the corner because I didn't see it. There were people hanging outside. And I saw my car burnt up. That's about it. I got it 10 months ago," said Alex Jenski, victim.

Jenski's entire front hood was torched. His neighbor, Pete Byrd, made the same unfortunate discovery. Bryd's Cadillac is now toast, as he calls it.

"It's gotta come out of the pocket for the deductable. No matter how you look at it's a loss," said Byrd.

Bryd says the only consolation is that he was able to save his golf clubs and shoes.

There were three more cars on the same block set fire. A couple miles a way and further west, the arsonists hit eight more cars in the 1600-block of North Keeler and six in the 1600-block of North Spaulding.

"This is something you don't want to wake up to. And you're on your way to work and now you have to call off, "said Arianna Jackson.

"They woke me up around 4:00 and my parents told me they had burned these cars. So I checked and I saw my dad's car on fire and my mom's care on fire," said Jovani Herrera.

So far, no one is in custody.

"From the initial, preliminary stages of the investigation it appears it was gang related. We don't know if it was random violence, pranks, mischief. We don't know that yet and we're still looking at that," said Supt. Jody Weis.

The victims we spoke with believe their cars were randomly chosen because they are not part of a gang. Most, if not all, of the torched cars are totaled.

Bomb and arson detectives continue to investigate. Police say no one was hurt in any of the incidents.


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