Auto theft crew hits North Side car dealership (video)

A slick crew of ski-masked auto thieves hit a North Side car dealership during business hours, the latest in a citywide surge of similar crimes at Chicago’s car dealers, rental agencies, and parking operations. The crews take advantage of the fact that many of these businesses leave keys in vehicles, either through convenience or necessity, while on private property.

Valet car operators are notorious for leaving keys inside vehicles, often to make it easier for employees to shuffle and move vehicles that are stacked in tightly-packed rows.

Last week, four men tried to steal cars from the Hertz rental car garage at Midway Airport. The crew drove stolen cars around the garage for 30 minutes, trying to find a way to get past barriers and spike strips, prosecutors said. Charges were filed against two men. The other two suspects got away.

Security cameras were rolling when a theft crew stopped by at Wheels of Chicago, 6229 North Western, around 2 p.m. on June 24. Watch:

Wheels of Chicago posted images of the thieves to its Facebook page with a warning to residents and other businesses.

“There are two masked men going to dealerships and service shops and stealing cars/parts,” the dealership warned. “They are driving a stolen Honda Accord, plate # IL 558-1Z65 … If you see them please dial 911 immediately and report them. Stay safe!”

The dealership’s video shows two men stepping out of the Honda after it backs into the garage. They head toward two cars. One thief drives away with a gray SUV. But his buddy apparently couldn’t find the keys to the other car. He had to run outside and hitch a ride in the SUV.

“They came back a few days later but were scared off by security that time,” said someone who is familiar with the thefts.

So far, no arrests have been announced in the Wheels of Chicago heist.

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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