Suspects targeting unlocked cars in the suburbs to commit crimes

In a FOX 32 special report: a crime spree traveling from the city to the suburbs.

Thieves are stealing from cars parked in home driveways at alarming rates and while locking your car doors might sound easy, forgetting could make you a target.

Groups of organized criminals are moving in and targeting thousands of cars. Their strategy? Take advantage of that false sense of security that comes with living outside the city.

It's a massive crime wave that has law enforcement across Chicagoland on high alert.

"They'll park their car in the street. They'll all jump out. They'll go car to car looking for open car doors,” said Bob Harris of DuPage Cars Stolen.

Those open doors can lead thieves to one of two things: valuables left in cars -- like purses, wallets and laptops -- or worse, the car itself, which thieves may use to commit crimes back in Chicago.

It happens in seconds and no town is immune from the break-ins, from Batavia to New Lenox to Crete. Groups are scouring neighborhoods, checking for unlocked car doors.

“If I come out of my car with groceries, the kids, and I forget to lock the door, I gotta worry about somebody going in and stealing everything? It's not a good thing, not a good deal,” said Kevin Batiest of Crete.

So how bad is it? We went one step further and checked with local sheriff's offices. They told us more than 500 cars were stolen with more than one-thousand burglarized in just the past year.

The thieves get the keys by opening garage doors or taking keys that drivers leave on the seats. What can be done about it? Police from Lemont to Naperville are telling residents to "lock it or lose it."

That simple step, police say, is the key to preventing 90 percent of thefts.