The driver of a stolen car who struck and killed a pedestrian Monday in the West Loop appeared to intentionally hit the woman, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. And, police department records show the stolen purple Ford Escape was among three vehicles stolen within 18-hours while their owners left them running in Lakeview. Detectives have now linked more than 40 vehicle thefts since late April to a small band of young car thieves who frequently dump the cars in the Englewood neighborhood.
Here are the latest developments:
Chicago police have video that shows a still-unidentified woman being struck and killed by a stolen car on the 600 block of South Canal around 1 p.m. Monday.
The driver appears to intentionally strike the woman as she crosses the intersection, a source said. No arrests have been made in the case. Two passengers are also believed to have been in the car when it struck the woman. A witness described them as “several young kids.”
Tuesday morning, police located the car that struck the woman abandoned on the 3300 block of South Wells in the Armour Square neighborhood. No arrests have been made.
The vehicle was stolen from in front of a 7-Eleven around 9:30 Monday after its owner left the car running while she ran inside the store at 1153 West Belmont. Police said the thieves dumped another stolen car in the convenience store lot — that vehicle, a Nissan, was stolen about 90 minutes earlier on the 7000 block of South Ashland in the Englewood neighborhood, according to CPD.
According to police records, at least a dozen stolen cars connected to the young theft ring have been found abandoned in that same corner of Englewood.
Catch and release
Police first warned in early May about a ring of young car thieves who steal idling vehicles from outside restaurants and stores. At the time, detectives had linked eight recent vehicle thefts within a block of Clark and Belmont to the crew.
The thefts have continued unabated since then in Lakeview, River North, the Loop, and other neighborhoods. But police have twice arrested small groups of boys, one only 10-years-old and none old enough to drive, in connection with thefts of idling cars in Lakeview.
Four were arrested last Wednesday evening after they unsuccessfully tried to steal a delivery driver’s car that was left idling outside a restaurant near Wrigley Field.
The boys, one age 10, another age 15, and two 13-years-old, were charged and released to their families. It was the third time one of them had been arrested in less than 48 hours, according to a CPD source.
Police arrested four boys in River North on May 18 after they abandoned a car that was stolen on the 300 block of North Clark and was then used by thieves who stole another idling car in Lakeview the same morning. A police department spokesperson said no charges were filed against the juveniles.
Dozens of cars stolen
Detectives have identified a pattern of dozens of recent auto thefts that involve small groups of young thieves who steal idling vehicles outside of businesses. Investigators believe a handful of boys are responsible for all of the thefts “based on times, dates, location, and MO,” a source said this week.
“They’ll keep getting released because they’re juveniles and [possession of a stolen motor vehicle] isn’t a violent crime,” the source said. “It’s rare to see kids held for anything.”
A confidential CPD list of auto thefts that have been connected to the crew shows that, of stolen cars that have been found, nearly half were recovered in the 7th Police District in Englewood. And about 25% of the recovered cars were located on police beat 726 — an area that is only six blocks long and less than four blocks wide.
The thieves have also repeatedly dumped stolen cars at the scenes of new auto thefts like they did on the 7-Eleven lot, police data shows.
And the car that struck and killed the woman Monday was one of three idling vehicles stolen in Lakeview between late Sunday night and Monday afternoon:
- At 10:30 Sunday night, three young men or boys jumped into a woman’s black Nissan as it sat idling on the corner of Belmont and Sheffield, according to police records. The victim tried to stop them, but she fell out of the vehicle as the driver sped away.
- At 9:31 a.m. Monday, the purple Ford Escape that later struck and killed the woman is stolen.
- At 4:45 p.m. Monday, a woman’s silver Chevy Cruze was stolen as it idled outside Clark Street Dog, 3032 North Clark. She told police that she bought the car just one day earlier.