FOX 32 NEWS - Car dealerships on Chicago’s Northwest Side have been getting additional police protection because car thieves have become more brazen than ever.
They’ve been hitting in broad daylight, when dealerships are sometimes filled with customers.
“They try to steal them right off the lot. Middle of the day,” said Tony Marino, President of Marino Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
Marino says the car dealers in the Portage park neighborhood on the Northwest Side have never seen anything like it. Car loads of young adults are pulling into dealerships, fanning out and looking to steal cars.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato says the thieves focus on service departments.
“The cars that are in the lot, you got to figure out where the keys are, what key goes to what car, so that's a little tougher than a car in a service department with keys in it,” Sposato said.
Marino's dealership has 184 surveillance cameras, and some managers have concealed carry permits and carry weapons. His detail team chased suspicious teens out of the service area a few weeks ago. He's yet to lose a car.
“They're going to different stores, looking for cars that have keys left in them, we don't do that, so we're lucky,” Marino said.
In one instance, the teens used what you might call a Trojan horse strategy, hiding one of the teens in the trunk of a car, so they could get the thief into the dealership where he could hide until after dark.
Altogether, about a dozen cars have been stolen from dealers on Irving Park Road.
At an Enterprise Rent A Car, thieves smashed a window to get in. In another case, a car was stolen from Autobahn City Volkswagon. Police say it was driven to Orloff Jaguar where the teens were confronted by an employee who thought they were suspicious. Two juveniles were arrested.
“This wasn't like midnight or two in the morning, going in there to steal the cars, it was more when they were open,” Sposato said.
The alderman says the attacks have stopped for now, and he credits police for stepping up patrols and dealers for increasing security.
In most cases, the teens that got away with cars have not yet been caught and the cars have not been recovered.