Chicago police are optimistic that they have dealt a serious blow to a violent carjacking and ATM theft crew that has struck dozens of times across the city in recent weeks, according to multiple law enforcement sources.
At least four people are in custody after police tracked GPS signals from an ATM that was stolen on the Near South Side early Wednesday, the sources said. Two ATMs have been recovered.
CWBChicago reported that the crew sprang back to life around 1 a.m. Wednesday when they apparently stole three SUVs from a car rental agency near O’Hare and then broke into several businesses to target ATMs on the Northwest and Near South Sides and in Bucktown.
One of the ATMs they took was equipped with a tracking device that police followed to 19th Street and Lawndale Avenue in the North Lawndale neighborhood. When cops arrived at the intersection, they didn’t find an ATM, but they did find one of the stolen SUVs abandoned in an alley, sources said.
Law enforcement resources were sent to the area where officials focused their attention on a home located in the 1800 block of South Lawndale.
Around 8 a.m., police chased two men who walked out of the home. One of the suspects reportedly dropped stacks of new currency as he ran. Both men were caught and arrested.
According to a source, police entered the home and found an ATM on the second floor with a crowbar lying next to it. At least two occupants of the home were also taken into custody for questioning.
Another ATM was found around noontime in an alley behind the 4000 block of West 26th Street in Little Village. Investigators were trying to determine where it came from.
Cracking the criminal crew has been a priority for Chicago police and the FBI’s Chicago field office, which joined the hunt on February 28 after 12 businesses were burglarized in one morning by a group of men who used a carjacked SUV to steal ATMs.
The burglary team has been taking ATMs, liquor, cigarettes, and other valuables during early morning raids for weeks. They struck multiple locations on February 28, February 26, February 23, February 24, February 4, February 3, January 26, January 20, January 1, and December 26.
Investigators have linked them to armed carjackings, including one in which a man was shot at a Northwest Side gas station.