Warning issued to all Chicago area auto dealerships after series of car thefts

FOX 32 NEWS - A band of brazen thieves recently hit a north suburban auto dealership, making off with five luxury cars.

Those thefts have now prompted warnings for dealerships all over the Chicago area.

It was about 20 minutes after closing, on the Saturday before last, at The Porsche Exchange in Highland Park when the bold theft occurred. At least half a dozen thieves broke a window to gain entry, headed for the service department, and stole five Porsches from the dealership.

The stolen vehicles included a 2017 911 S black convertible, a black 2011 Panamera, and three Cayenne SUVs. Police and the dealership declined to talk on camera, but a dealer’s trade association says reports of such thefts have been increasing.

“They come in waves, and try to find cars that have the keys left in them, because then, it's an easy opportunity to steal,” said David Sloan, President of Chicago Automobile Trade Association.

Sloan believes the stolen luxury cars aren't being chopped up for parts, but instead they're being used to commit other crimes. Three of the five Porsches have been recovered, all three in Chicago. Juveniles were caught driving two of them and they've been charged, and the driver of the third one wasn't found.

The tactics used by the thieves in Highland Park were very similar to those used in a series of thefts at a dealership on West Irving Park Road in Chicago in mid-December.

In those cases, dealers described carloads of young adults arriving at dealerships, fanning out and looking for cars with keys. About a dozen cars were stolen before Chicago police stepped up their patrols and dealerships increased their security. Now, all dealers in the area have been issued an alert.

“We just told our dealers to be on the lookout, use best practices when it comes to handling the keys, don't leave cars unattended, don’t leave cars running, don't leave keys in cars,” Sloan said.

Sloan says that's good advice for homeowners, too, because thefts from driveways and garages have also been on the rise.

Another luxury car dealer was hit in November when police say four thieves stole two jaguars that were being serviced at a dealership in Wilmette.