CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police said there have been at least nine incidents in the last several weeks in which thieves have broken into parking garages and stolen cars out of them.
Police have issued a community alert for people who park in residential or commercial garages on the near North Side, where there have been at least nine vehicles reported stolen in Gold Coast, River North and Lincoln Park since October 21.
"It's been happening with increasing frequency," said 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins. "We are meeting one-on-one with individual parking garage operators."
In each incident, police said a group of three to five men wearing masks and dark clothing take car keys from the garages and make off with the vehicles overnight.
"It's become easy pickings for them to go downtown and frankly a lot of these garages having expensive cars parked in front of them. So the thieves are targeting some of these high end vehicles," Ald. Hopkins said.
According to Chicago police data, vehicle thefts are up 96% with more than 18,000 vehicles stole in 2022 in compared to just over 9,000 in 2021.
Police are asking people who use parking garages to always be aware of their surroundings, remain calm if confronted by a thief, and try to remember any physical characteristics of suspicious people to report to police.