CHICAGO (CBS) — Four suspects arrested in connection with a series of shootings during a funeral procession from Chicago to west suburban Hillside were driving a vehicle that had been stolen from a car rental agency two weeks earlier.
Hillside Police Det. Carlo Viscioni said rental cars are a popular target for criminals, because they aren’t reported stolen right away.
“What do they have to lose? You know, even if they destroy the car, and they all get away, they’ve got nothing to lose; it’s not their property,” he said.
Viscioni said criminals often rent the cars online using stolen credit cards, and then pick them up at airports using automated kiosks.
“It was rented on November 19 out of Minneapolis, and it was due to be returned on the 22nd of November,” he said of the stolen car stopped by Hillside police during a rowdy funeral procession on Tuesday.
Police have said passengers were hanging out of cars, and weaving in and out of traffic as they headed to Oakridge Cemetery. One of the cars had been used in multiple shootings earlier in the day, including one in front of the church where the funeral was held.
After stopping that stolen car, police found three handguns with high-capacity magazines and high-impact ammunition, police said. The four suspects who were taken into custody had been arrested a combined 160 times.
The stolen car they were driving was two weeks overdue from a rental agency when it was stopped. Viscioni said it probably wasn’t reported stolen because many rental agencies wait about a month before filing a report with police.
“Most of the individuals that commit these crimes, that do this, are well aware of this 30-day window. So they’ll use the cars for as long as they can. Sometimes they’ll even use them, and then sell them for someone else to use,” he said.
“Usually, if you find a car that’s stolen, let’s say you’re driving around and your computer alerts you to a stolen vehicle, if it’s in fact unoccupied, you can get that vehicle off the street, and that leaves those individuals without that specific vehicle to continue on their crime spree,” he added.
However, if a vehicle isn’t reported stolen, police said criminals can keep using it to commit crimes.
In this case, before the SUV was stopped Tuesday, it had been used in several crimes in Chicago, police said.
“Aggravated assault on Chicago police officers, trying to run down an officer; another shooting; and several pursuits in the city and the 15th District,” Viscioni said.
The detective said this wasn’t the first time Hillside police have stopped a stolen rental car that had been used in a crime spree. Another rental car stolen in Florida had been used to commit a string of felonies in several states.
“That vehicle was linked all over. They were going from Florida up and down the states, utilizing stolen credit card information to buy electronics and expensive items from big box stores and high-line stores, in order to sell those products at a discounted rate on the street,” he said.
Viscioni said rental agencies could help law enforcement by reporting cars stolen sooner.
Enterprise Holdings – which runs Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental agencies – said they don’t report a vehicle stolen immediately, because there often are legitimate reasons a renter might be delayed in returning a car. However, Enterprise Holdings would not say how long they wait before contacting police about an apparently stolen rental car.