Thieves target Portage Park car dealerships

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Police say a rash of thefts have taken place in recent weeks at several dealerships on the Northwest side.

Police said they caught one juvenile after one incident, but the others scattered. Police suspect that teenagers working in groups of three and six are responsible, but no one has been caught.

Customers might not notice, but car dealership managers and owners in Portage Park hope would-be thieves notice more security after several cars were stolen from Irving Park Road.

"There is better coordination and communication among everyone and we're getting the information more timely. In addition to the dealerships have all stepped up their security procedures," said 16th District Chicago Police Commander Bill Looney.

Over the last couple of months, police say dealerships around the 5100 block and the 5300 block of West Irving Park Road have had car theft attempts or thefts. In some of the incidents, multiple cars were taken. Investigators said there have been seven vehicles reported stolen from dealerships since October.

"The biggest thing that caught our attention was on the 29th of November, we had six cars stolen from Enterprise and this group went into the building and broke a window to get into the building and took nine sets of keys and evidently had six people able to drive the cars because they were able to take six cars off the lot," said Cmdr. Looney.

Alderman Nick Sposato (38th Ward) was among those present to discuss the organized auto thefts and ways to prevent them with representatives from the dealerships and Cmdr. Looney.

"I'm just concerned how bold these guys are," said Ald. Sposato. "We advised the dealers on some things to look out for, put much more police attention on the dealerships and also let the dealerships know what to look for, what to pay a little more attention for."

Cmdr. Looney also recommended motorists pay attention, even when it's cold outside, noting that that these are crimes of opportunity, whether exploiting weaknesses in a security system or letting one's guard down.

"If you're out warming the car, keep the doors locked. You don't take things for granted that everything is going to be how you left it, because there are people that prey on this kind of situation," said Cmdr. Looney.
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