Metra riders report stolen wheels, car parts in commuter parking lots

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team looked into claims from Metra riders who say their vehicles were ransacked after they parked them in official lots.

It's not the discovery you want to make after a long day at work. Some Metra riders say they want increased security after their wheels were stolen. One woman says it happened to her recently, and the I-Team found other similar cases.

"All four tires were missing from my car, but they did leave me the lug nuts!" said Charlotte Wrovlewski.

The vehicles belong to two Metra commuters who say they had their cars parked for the day in October at a pay-as-you park lot across from the 93rd Street Metra stop.
It's managed by a private company, Chicago Parking Systems, but patrolled by Metra police.

"It was pouring rain and it was just a disaster, unable to get a tow truck to come out that evening," Wrovlewski said.

Wrovlewski filed a Chicago and Metra police report and an insurance claim but still had to pay almost $1,000 for deductible and a car rental. She also says her windows were smashed in on two prior occasions.

The I-Team found more. Chicago police say over the summer there were another two incidents of two stolen catalytic converters at this lot.

"It was devastating to say the least because you don't know what to do," Wrovlewski said. "It is just a gut-wrenching feeling and you don't want that to happen to anyone."

Chicago police also say there have been three other similar incidents at the Hegewisch Metra station in September, October and November. A Metra spokesperson says only one of two lots is patrolled by Metra and they're not responsible for a second private lot.
CPD and Metra police were unable to tell us in which of the two lots the thefts occurred.

As for the lots that Metra is responsible for, a spokesperson says Metra police check them using random patrols, investigate all incidents and assign extra patrols if there is a pattern of crimes.

A spokesperson also added, "Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to patrol these lots full time. Like all police departments, we do the best we can with the resources we have."

We didn't see any patrols late Monday morning at the 93rd Street lot and this attendant booth was empty.

"It is kind of ridiculous to have the booth there with no one in there and that has been the case since this lot was built," Wrovlewski said.

Chicago Parking Systems, the company which Metra says manages two of the lots in question, didn't get back to us.

If you're a Metra commuter leaving a car in a parking lot all day you may want to consider installing a car alarm. There are also special locks for sale for wheels and other car parts.

Metra says they're continuing to research the theft reports.
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