Auto thief stole delivery driver’s car with 3 kids inside — then kicked them out in the dead of winter, prosecutors say

A Chicago man stole a food delivery driver’s car with the victim’s three children still inside, then kicked the kids out a couple of blocks later in the dead of winter, prosecutors said Sunday. Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered Marcos Contreras, 19, held in lieu of $100,000 bail on charges of aggravated kidnapping and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

“Thank you, your honor,” Contreras responded at the end of the bail hearing. “You look lovely today, ma’am.”

Marcos Contreras allegedly stole a delivery driver’s car with three kids inside from outside Westline, a ghost kitchen. | CPD; Google

The auto theft occurred outside Westline Food Junction, a ghost kitchen at 850 West Superior, around 8:25 p.m. on February 23.

A DoorDash driver initially sent his 11-year-old son inside to pick up an order, but the father eventually went inside personally because his kid was taking too long, Assistant State’s Attorney Tom LaHood said.

The driver left his silver Equinox running with his other three children inside — a 12-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, and a 3-year-old girl.

Within two minutes, Contreras jumped into the car’s driver’s seat and sped away, LaHood said.

He allegedly drove several blocks and then kicked the kids out of the car. According to online weather records, it was about 21° at the time.

Family members located the children and tracked one kid’s phone, which remained inside the stolen car. Police went to the phone’s location and allegedly found the stolen car across from Contreras’ home.

Witnesses and surveillance video added to the evidence, according to LaHood.

“The defendant chose himself when he took the running car. He chose himself when he abandoned these children on the city street. He chose himself when he took the car to his house,” Dawkins said. “He just abandoned the children.”

Contreras must post a deposit bond of $10,000 to go home on electronic monitoring under Dawkins’ order.

His defense attorney said he has one child and works at Subway.

Target rich environment

Motor vehicle theft reports are up 66% this year compared to 2021, according to CPD records. They’re also up sharply compared to other recent years. One reason: people leave their cars running and unattended.

Delivery drivers, looking to shave a few seconds off their downtime, are frequent victims.

How frequent? Well, according to CPD records, the 800 block of West Superior never had more than three auto theft reports in any year since 2001. And there weren’t any in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, or 2020, the year Westline’s ghost kitchen opened.

Last year there were 23 auto thefts on the block. As of June 10, there have been ten this year, including two carjackings. One of those hijackings was caught on video.

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