A spate of car thefts overnight Dec. 5 in a section of unincorporated Downers Grove Township is likely the work of auto theft crews operating throughout the county, said Bob Harris, DuPage County Sheriff’s Office community resource unit supervisor.
Three cars were stolen from a subdivision located near Hobson Road and Walnut Avenue, and an additional two vehicles were stolen from an unincorporated section of the county near Naperville, Harris said.
Thieves look for unlocked cars and search them in hopes of finding the keys, he said.
“This is the same crew that comes out from the city to DuPage County,” Harris said.
He distinguished the group from individuals who break into cars to steal loose change, radar detectors, GPS devices, sunglasses and other personal items with the intention of selling the items for drug money.
“Keys are the No. 1 thing they’re looking for,” Harris said.
However, discovering a garage door opener can lead thives to other vehicles and potentially access to the owner's home, he said.
He added that many of the thieves are dangerous as evidenced by the guns and bullets found in recovered stolen cars, he said.
Harris added that the crews do not limit themselves to DuPage County.
“It’s Skokie all the way to Aurora,” he said.
Since August 2107, the Sheriff’s Office has received 294 reports of car break ins along with 77 auto thefts, Harris said.
Downers Grove has seen its share of auto thefts and break ins over the past several months as well.
So far in 2018, 90 car burglaries and 20 thefts have been reported to Downers Grove Police, said William Budds, the department's support services manager.
"Car burglaries are never ending for us," Budds said.
In some cases, thieves merely rummage through the glove box or center console but do find anything of value to steal, he said.
And burglaries are not limited to personal vehicles. In recent weeks, police have reported two instances of power and landscaping tools being stolen from work trailers.
For example, several tools valued at more than $5,000 reportedly were stolen between 6 p.m. Dec. 4 and 6:16 a.m. Dec. 5 from trailer in the parking lot of Comfort Inn, 3010 Finley Road.
"There are more [instances of], 'We see it, we're taking it,'" Budds said.
Additionally, a handful of auto dealerships located on Ogden Avenue have reported vehicles thefts in recent months, Budds said.
The front door of Hertz Rental, 2561 Ogden Ave., reportedly was smashed Nov. 24 or 25. Nothing was taken from the business. Thieves typically break into auto dealerships or rental offices seeking car keys, Budds said.
Stolen cars are typically recovered within a few days of the theft, Budds said.
In fact, stolen cars are sometimes found at the site of other car thefts. Thieves are essentially trading one stolen car for another, he said.
"They usually turn up in a day or so," he said. "A lot of them are recovered after being used."