Police Use High-Tech Tool To Combat Auto Thefts

(CBS) – More than 100 cars stolen, from at least 30 suburbs.

Now, Chicago police are finding them using high-tech tools.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

Jeff Lesniewicz of Hinsdale says his car was stolen over the summer.

The car was among more than 100 vehicles stolen from wealthy suburbs, in the past four months. Chicago police say the thieves are members of several South Side gangs.

“How they came across this idea was they were sitting around one night and somebody Googled ‘mansions in Chicago,’” Lt. Edward Wodnicki says.

“Without very much time passing, they found a car that had the keys just sitting in the center console, and it skyrocketed from there.”

Jeffrey Manor. The Bronzeville neighborhood. These are two of the communities where the stolen luxury cars have been found, in just the past four months. The cars were dumped, after they were used in drive-by shootings and robberies.

“We have great laws in place that allow us to take their cars when they commit crimes. They don’t care if we’re taking stolen cars,” Wodnicki says.

At least 20 of the recently stolen cars were found through “automatic license plate readers.”

Cameras atop a regular-looking Chicago police read the license plates and provide a readout inside the police car. That would include whether the car has been listed as being stolen.

“It says which camera just read the plate, which direction the car was headed and the then the officers turn around take action and make an arrest,” Wodnicki says.

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