3 tow truck drivers charged with stealing cars

December 2, 2011 4:29:20 AM PST
Police have charged three men in an undercover operation targeting tow truck drivers who were allegedly stealing cars, stripping them for parts and selling those parts to scrap yards.

According to authorities, Javier Garcia-Cruz, 27, of the 400 block of Providence Court, Bolingbrook, Illinois, and Anthony McMorries, 52, of the 5000 block of W. Superior, were both charged with two counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Jose Sanchez, 44, of the 5700 block of W. Thomas, was charged with one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Investigators say the cars were taken off the streeets, from parking lots and from cars involved in crashes at different locations all around the city.

"There were a few incidents where they did up on an accident scene. They entered into an agreement with victim. The victim didn't know the car was actually going to being taken away and take away eventually to a scrap yard. They thought it was going to go to a body shop or a repair shop," said Sgt. Joe Petrenko, Chicago Police Department.

After stealing the cars, Petrenko says the suspects would strip the car of parts like catalytic converters, GPS monitors, DVD players, stereo equipment and expensive rims. Then the car would be sold for scrap metal.

Investigators say all three men worked independently.

"Some of our suspects have active for years. Our investigation revealed that some of the tow drivers were stealing up to five cars a week," said Petrenko.

Police launched the investigation called "Operation Hook'em Up" after receiving complaints from residents that tow truck drivers were stealing cars. The investigation, which lasted two months, was part of a joint effort between three different police districts.

Police suggest drivers ask for a photo ID and business card from tow truck drivers.


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