CHICAGO (WLS) -- Law enforcement officers have taken down a sophisticated car theft ring that has been targeting high-end car dealerships around the state for several years.
Car dealerships in DuPage and Cook Counties have been feeling the sting of an organized car theft ring that used identity theft to illegally obtain financing and rip off a number of dealers.
A total of six people have been indicted: two ringleaders and four associates who were lured into the scheme with cash and drugs. They would then use stolen or fake IDs to apply for loans to illegally obtain vehicles.
"The indictments are part of Operation Free Ride, an investigation has been ongoing for some time into a pattern of seemingly isolated automotive thefts," said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
These recent thefts are just the latest way thieves have preyed on car dealerships, which on multiple occasions this year have been victimized by bands of thieves stealing cars off the lot. According to authorities, the car theft industry has become a multi-billion dollar problem nationwide.
"Motor vehicle thefts, are not just property crimes, these crimes have an enormous impact on the community. Motor vehicle thefts in Chicago and the collar counties, have skyrocketed in the past two years," said Bob Berlin, DuPage County State's Attorney.
Its estimated car thefts results in $223 million in losses each year in Illinois and $5.7 million in DuPage County alone.
"Often times you find these vehicles that are stolen are then used in other crimes, so curtailing this kind of theft will go a long way towards making things better throughout Chicago," said Davis Sloan, Chicago Automotive Trade Association.
Authorities are hoping that these indictments will send a message to would-be thieves, that they are working together to go after them, and hopefully prevent future crimes.