A group of very young auto thieves that has been targeting cars that drivers leave running outside restaurants and other businesses struck twice within 10 minutes Tuesday night. Witnesses say the crew is composed of some kids who appear to be well under the legal driving age — perhaps 12-years-old or younger.
Police on Monday detained four juveniles who were suspected of stealing cars in Boystown and River North earlier in the day. But the kids were later released. Now, they appear to be up to their old tricks.
Tuesday evening, witnesses reported seeing four juveniles steal a delivery driver’s Honda Accord as it idled outside a Chipotle restaurant at 1027 West Addison in Wrigleyville around 8:50 p.m.
Five minutes later, the kids ditched the Honda and stole another idling car that was left running outside Peking Chinese restaurant, 3167 North Halsted in Boystown. A witness followed the second stolen car onto Lake Shore Drive and the Magnificent Mile, but police did not locate the vehicle or the kids. The witness said one of the thieves appeared to be under 12-years-old while the other three appeared to be between 12- and 15-years old.
A similarly-described group of thieves stole a white Nissan as it idled outside an apartment building on the 300 block of North Clark in River North around 8:20 a.m. Monday. About 30 minutes later, some of the kids jumped out of the Nissan and stole a Jeep Cherokee that was left running outside Stan’s Donuts, 3302 North Broadway in Boystown.
Police found the Nissan abandoned in River North around 11 a.m. after a concerned motorist reported seeing a young boy driving a car with two other young passengers near the intersection of Wabash and Grand.
Officers located the boys on a Red Line train at Chicago and State a few minutes later. No charges were filed.
Dozens of cars stolen
A series of auto thefts involving young offenders and idling cars have been reported across the downtown area and Lakeview recently.
- Shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday, a delivery driver’s car was stolen from the 1500 block of North Sandberg Terrace after he left it running while he went inside.
- At 9:10 p.m. Saturday, a silver Nissan Rogue was stolen as it idled outside Chipotle, 1025 West Belmont.
- Last Thursday, three boys got out of a car and jumped into a Nissan Rogue that a woman left running while she picked up food from a restaurant at State and Lake.
- Another idling car was stolen from the intersection of Halsted and Belmont when its owner left it idling outside a restaurant around 10 p.m. last Wednesday. Once again, three young offenders jumped into the car and drove away.
Police warnings issued
Chicago police have issued two community alerts this month to warn about widespread theft of idling cars in Lakeview and the downtown area. Many of the thefts involve cars used by food delivery drivers who leave their vehicles unattended while they pick up and deliver orders, according to CPD reports.
Police last week warned that idling cars are also being stolen in the Loop and River North. The downtown pattern involves at least six thefts between April 15 and May 8.