OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — It turns out that in addition to the skyrocketing incidence of violent carjackings in Chicago over recent months, the number of cars just being stolen is up too.
Some thieves want the cars so bad, they are pushing them right out of driveways – and getting away with them without a key.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, there is one model of car thieves are targeting – and with a reason in mind.
A parking lot in southwest suburban Oak Lawn was left littered with glass this week. It was personal for P.J. Cunnane.
“I was very angry,” Cunnane said.
He was upset to find his red Dodge Challenger stolen from outside his apartment Wednesday morning.
“When I came downstairs, come around the door, and just noticed my car was gone – and all this broken glass,” Cunnane said.
It turned out the theft was captured on video. Three guys are seen around the car as one breaks the driver’s side window, and then they all climb in without even opening the door.
As the video goes on, the thieves shift the car into neutral, and then push it from the parking spot.
“They knew it was a loud car, and they knew turning it on in the lot would wake a lot of people,” Cunnane said.
The crooks didn’t hotwire the Challenger. Instead, they pushed the Dodge into the street using a stolen white Chevrolet Malibu in which they had arrived.
Afterward, they started the vehicle without keys. It left Cunnane confused.
“They knew exactly what they were doing,” he said. “You can tell they been doing it for a while.”
When police arrived, he said officers told him about a new trend targeting his Dodge model.
“They stole computers,” Cunnane said. “They were able to mimic or make keys, for Dodges – Challengers and Chargers – and once they get in the car with it, they can start the car.”
In Chicago, 2020 ended with not only more carjackings, but 9,864 auto thefts – up significantly from 2019.
It is a crime spilling out into the suburbs, and if crooks have a way to override the push starts in certain models, the fear is auto thefts will keep happening.
Investigators are still looking for people who stole a parked neon green Dodge Challenger that is now linked to three bank robberies in the north and west suburbs.
“They’ve been targeting those specific cars in the area and basically all over the city,” Cunnane said.
Cunnane’s Challenger was stolen in minutes.
Meanwhile, it is believed the same Chevrolet Malibu the thieves used to steal Cunnane’s Challenger is connected to two other thefts in nearby south suburbs. The crooks run in a group of three to four.
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