North Side car thief is caught on video as auto thefts soar 74% this year

A video grab shows the car’s owner opening her driver’s door as the thief speeds away. | SC Media

An auto theft was captured on video Monday on the North Side, one of the hundreds of similar crimes that Chicago police will be told about this week. But the footage is valuable, allowing viewers to see how impulsive such crimes may be and how quickly they can unfold.

It happened in the evening as the car’s owner was unloading groceries from her double-parked vehicle near Bryn Mawr and Sawyer in North Park.

In the video, a man rides his bike slowly down the sidewalk with another man walking at his side. They move slowly out of camera view as the woman walks from her car to her home. Seconds later, the person who was walking with the bicyclist returns. He jumps into the driver’s seat and drives away as the woman anxiously tries to open the car door.

But it’s too late. Watch:

Major crime reports in Chicago are up 37% this year and 10% since last year, but no category is increasing faster than auto theft.

Chicago police stats show that a surge in auto thefts this year has driven the category up 74% compared to last year and 70% compared to 2018. The category does not include carjackings, in which vehicles are taken by force. Those are classified as robberies.

What is causing the increase in auto theft? Yes, the “Kia boy” phenomenon, in which thieves exploit design flaws to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles with nothing more than a USB cord, is a factor.

But many more vehicles are stolen when their owners—often food delivery drivers—leave them running while completing errands. The decision to leave cars idling may be driven by the mistaken belief that a car won’t move (or at least can’t go far) if its key fob is not inside the vehicle.

In fact, cars can operate without a fob until the gas tank goes dry, as long as it is not turned off.

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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