Chicago (CBS) — Groups of thieves are going from the city to the suburbs by the carload, targeting cars with key fobs left inside.
“We never thought this would happen,” Jake Olson said. “We feel safe out here.”READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Record Warmth Possible Next 2 Days
So safe that Jake and Trisha Olson left both their SUVs in their driveway Monday night with the keys inside. Then they got an early morning call from police saying Trisha’s car was found abandoned in nearby Palatine. The couple went to check their driveway and found that in fact both their cars were gone.
“We had four sleeping kids in the house at the time and the first thing that comes to our mind was the safety of our kids,” Jake said. “Is somebody still in the neighborhood? Is someone in the backyard?”
The thieves were long gone and Trisha got her Ford Expedition back from Palatine.
“I took it and had it detailed, cleaned and scrubbed inside,” Trisha said. “So I feel fine, but it’s still that creepy feeling.”
The next day more police called to say Jake’s stripped and totaled Range Rover was found abandoned in Calumet Park.READ MORE: Illinois Department Of Employment Security Admits To Monthlong Callback Wait Times; State Rep. Says Methods Must Change
“We have car theft rings coming in from the city,” Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said.
Curran said they have 100 suspects from multiple theft rings involved in stealing more than 130 cars in the past two years. DuPage, Will and McHenry counties are dealing with the same problem.
The thieves target nice neighborhoods, nice cars and look for easy access.
“Every one of these cars that has been stolen had a key fob in the car,” Curran said.
The Olsons won’t make that mistake again. They had their car re-keyed, got new locks and changed their garage door code, trying to feel safe and grateful it wasn’t worse.
“At the end of the day, it’s a car,” Jake Olson said. “A car can always be replaced.”MORE NEWS: The United Center COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site: An Inside Look
Police said in nearly all the cases, the thieves have not entered homes. They basically steal the cars to go on a joyride and then strip them for parts. In Lake County, they’ve recovered 95 percent of the stolen cars.