Stealing a car that someone left running? That’s pretty dumb.
Picking up the owner’s cellphone and staring into the camera while it’s on a live FaceTime call? That’s even dumber.
Sending a request to follow the car’s owner on Instagram the next day? Well, that’s just crazy.
But it happened, prosecutors said Sunday. And Cortel King of Calumet City allegedly did it while on juvenile parole for vehicular invasion.
It all started on the day after Christmas when a woman drove to her sister’s house in Evanston while FaceTiming with a friend. She left her Toyota Camry running with her phone inside while she went into her sister’s home.
Then her sister got a strange call from the victim’s friend who had been on FaceTime with her. She started asking about her sister’s car and asked if her sister was driving it. That’s when the victim realized that someone had stolen her car from outside the house.
Incredibly, the FaceTime friend said, she got a good look at the car thief because he picked up the victim’s phone and looked directly into the camera after stealing the car, prosecutors said Sunday.
Police found the stolen car abandoned in Calumet City two days later.
Meanwhile, the victim got a new phone and had a surprise when she logged in to Instagram for the first time on her new device: There was a follow request from a man whose IG feed was filled with photos of the guy who stared into her FaceTime camera after stealing her car days earlier.
She showed all of the photos to police. And they immediately recognized him. It was Cortel King, prosecutors said.
Before police caught up with King, he stole another car in Chicago and posted a video of himself driving the hot car on Instagram, according to prosecutors.
In the second case, a man left his 2018 Ford Explorer running and unlocked at a gas pump on the 6000 block of North Western on March 3. Surveillance video shows a man getting out of a Chrysler 300, getting into the Explorer, and driving away.
Chicago cops allegedly recognized the car thief from other incidents as Cortel King. A detective went to King’s Instagram account and found a video of him driving the stolen Ford Explorer while wearing the same jacket that the car thief wore, prosecutors said.
Police found the Explorer abandoned in Calumet City on March 9.
Meanwhile, King found his way to Arizona, where he crossed paths with police, prosecutors said. Cops in Arizona took him into custody on an arrest warrant, and King was extradited to Chicago last week.
On Sunday, prosecutors charged him with two counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle for the Evanston and Western Avenue incidents. They said he has a pending misdemeanor identity theft case here and is on juvenile parole for a vehicular invasion case that he also served 16 months for.
Judge Arthur Willis set bail at $50,000 on the auto theft cases and $1,000 on the pending ID theft matter. King will need to post $5,100 to get out of jail.