Tow truck scammers are stealing cars from downtown traffic crashes, Chicago police say

CHICAGO — What’s worse than being in a car crash? How about having your car stolen by the tow truck that shows up to help you? That’s been happening lately in the Loop and South Loop, according to Chicago police.

Since August 20, at least four cars have been stolen by tow trucks that showed up at traffic crash sites in the downtown area, mostly on or near Lake Shore Drive.

Police said in a community alert that the tow trucks show up at crash scenes, apparently unsolicited, and make towing arrangements with a driver. They take off with the car, but it never winds up where it’s supposed to, and the owners report their vehicles stolen.

Area Three detectives say the scam has been pulled at least four times:

  • in the 1800 block of South Moe Drive at 5:56 p.m. on August 20
  • in the 400 block of South Lake Shore Drive at 5:26 p.m. on September 9
  • in the 100 block of East Cermak at 2:30 p.m. on September 11
  • in the 300 block of South Columbus at 11 a.m. on September 13

Drivers should consult with their insurance company before accepting tow service, the police said. And drivers should be particularly wary of unsolicited tow service or so-called “chaser” drivers. CPD also advised drivers to check and verify the tow truck’s licenses and to avoid being pressured into accepting tow services.

Anyone who has information about the scammers can contact investigators at 312-744-8263. The crime pattern number is 23-3-072.

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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