O’Hare auto thief busted after asking cops to help him find his (stolen) sports car, prosecutors say

A man suspected of participating in a series of auto thefts from a parking garage at O’Hare International Airport was arrested after he misplaced his stolen sports car and asked nearby police officers if they could help him find it, prosecutors said.

And he allegedly stole the cars while he was on bail for a felony gun case and another stolen car case.

Chicago police have been investigating a string of car thefts at the garage for over a month. They all involved thieves who arrived in an orange Dodge Challenger Hellcat that was itself stolen in late February, Assistant State’s Attorney Loukas Kalliantasis said.

Desean Thomas and a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. | CPD; Dodge

On February 24, the masked thieves arrived in the Hellcat and drove out of the garage with a Jeep. A few hours later, they came back and stole another car, but the Hellcat’s driver, Desean Thomas, 27, forgot to cover his face and it was captured on surveillance footage, Kalliantasis said.

Thomas’ face was visible again on March 27 when he and two men arrived in the Hellcat and stole another Jeep, Kalliantasis continued.

Saturday afternoon, police saw the orange Hellcat enter the garage, and they moved in. Officers saw two men separate as they approached. One of them dropped a backpack and ran away. The bag contained blank key fobs and a machine to program them, Kalliantasis said.

As cops worked the scene, Thomas allegedly walked up and asked them if they had seen his orange Hellcat. Officers “assisted” Thomas and took him into custody after they confirmed that a key fob he was carrying started the stolen car, Kalliantasis alleged.

Thomas allegedly admitted to driving the car and knowing it was stolen.

“That may be the most number of times I’ve heard the word hellcat,” Judge David Navarro joked before ordering Thomas held in lieu of $25,000 bail on a felony charge of possessing a stolen motor vehicle.

Kalliantasis said Thomas was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in 2012, possessing a stolen motor vehicle in 2014, and fleeing-eluding in 2016. Thomas also has two pending felony cases.

One of those cases stems from an incident in August 2020. Thomas was allegedly behind the wheel of a stolen Jeep that had its motor off and was being pushed by another car. Unfortunately, the Jeep rolled through a stop sign at about 15 MPH, and a Chicago cop had to slam on their brakes to avoid crashing into it, prosecutors said.

The Jeep, allegedly stolen a week earlier in Dolton, had a broken rear window, no keys, and there was a screwdriver inside. Its owner had both key fobs.

Prosecutors charged him with possessing a stolen motor vehicle and, coincidentally, Navarro was the judge who said he could go home by posting 10% of a $5,000 bail.

Just four months later, police arrested Thomas after he allegedly posted social media video of himself firing a gun at a shooting range. Prosecutors charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Once again, Navarro was the judge he saw in bond court. According to court records, the judge again set bail at $5,000, which required another $500 deposit.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com