A police crackdown on auto thefts in Lakeview has already begun to pay dividends. But, so far, no groups of juveniles have been caught in the act of stealing cars from the area.
Town Hall District officers began running “auto theft missions” in Lakeview East after dozens of cars were stolen while idling along Belmont and Clark streets in recent weeks.
Shortly after noon Thursday, officers spotted a stolen vehicle parked on the 900 block of West Belmont. The 2015 Jeep Patriot was reported stolen one day earlier from the 2100 block of West Belmont.
Cops kept an eye on the Jeep and watched as 24-year-old Shawn Alexander walked up to the vehicle with its keys, according to prosecutors. Alexander was arrested. Alexander allegedly told police he “found” the SUV’s keys and decided to take it.
Prosecutors said Alexander’s criminal history includes convictions for possession of stolen motor vehicles in 2015 and 2016. He received two-years probation for those. He also received a four-year sentence for burglary in 2016.
He is now charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle in this week’s incident. Judge Arthur Willis released him on a recognizance bond.
CPD’s efforts against auto thefts in the area intensified this week after a group of young thieves stole an idling car from a 7-Eleven parking lot in Lakeview and then fatally struck a pedestrian while driving it hours later.
Small groups of young boys between the ages of 10- and 15-years-old are believed to be responsible for stealing dozens of cars along Belmont and Clark streets in Lakeview East since April. They have been targeting cars that drivers leave running while picking up food or making quick trips into retail stores.
But the group has not been seen in action since Monday’s fatal hit-and-run.