Carjackers strike South Side car dealerships

November 16, 2011 5:03:52 AM PST
Thieves posing as potential used-car buyers are asking dealerships on the city's South Side to take a test drive -- and then taking off.

One suspect was taken into custody, police said, but the search continues for others in connection with at least two other test thefts in October during the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. Officials released an alert Tuesday asking for information on the case.

In an October 26 incident, a man posing as a customer approached a salesman at S and M Auto Sales in the 5700-block of South Western Avenue and asked to test drive a 2008 Chrysler 300. As the salesman opened the passenger side, the alleged offender took off, injuring the salesman.

"When [the offender] took off, he got crushed between the light pole and the door," Mohammad Ihmoud, owner S and M Auto Sales, said. "He suffered five broken bones on his chest . . . also bleeding on his liver."

Ihmoud says police apprehended the offender and returned the vehicle. His employee, 40-year-old Mohanad Salamah, is recovering at home. Now the dealership insists on seeing a proper ID before even showing a car to a customer.

"There is no reason now to even show a car without seeing a proper ID, even if they just want to look at a car," Ihmoud said.

The fist of the three incidents happened on October 10 in the 6800-block of South Oakley; the second one was October 21 in the 5600-block of South Western Avenue; and the third on October 26 in the 5700-block of South Western Avenue.

"If they want to take the car, it is better getting my employees hurt," John Ginino, Bose Motors, said.

The manager of Mars Motors, located in the 5600-block of Western Ave., says that a few weeks ago a man hijacked one of his cars, which was returned by police.

"Now, I'm going to make sure I have an ID before I going to let the car be test driven," Lazaro Lopez, Mars Motors, said.

Officials recommend salesmen let the rest of the dealership know when they are taking a potential customer out on a test drive, the planned route, and the estimated time of return.

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