CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicago police are warning of a crime spree targeting auto repair businesses on the northwest side of the city.
At least five different stores in Albany Park and Irving Park have been hit this week by thieves making off with stolen cars or breaking into and damaging merchandise.
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Shocking surveillance video shows the startling trend of auto shops in northwest Chicago: cars being stolen in broad daylight while mechanics work inside the shop.
“I’ve known this neighborhood for about 22 years and I’ve never seen it like this,” said Sadik Patel, owner of OK Body Shop and Auto Repair in Albany Park.
Patel said it was around 12:30 p.m. Thursday when the suspects casually entered the garage when an employee noticed one of them with a weapon. Moments later, two of the suspects get into a car, while the other two get into a black Audi. Within seconds, they are gone.
“It’s not fair to customers because they rely on us because they trust us, and things like that happen,” Patel said.
Auto shops on the northwest side appear to be targeted over the past few weeks. Chicago police have issued a community alert highlighting several incidents over the past few days.
The suspects in these incidents seem to target only high-end vehicles. This was the case for Pearl Auto Spa on Elston, as an older Honda there was the second car they stole in broad daylight. He was picked up a few blocks away with damage.
“It’s really frustrating and there’s not much we can do about it, you know,” said Konrad Dobrolinski, managing director of Pearl Auto Spa.
Dobrolinski and his brother have had at least three break-ins at this Irving Park store in the past month. Around 2am Friday you can see thieves breaking in and looking for keys. They immediately smash a television, thinking it’s a camera, and walk around the place before leaving empty-handed.
“Last year it was like one or two months in the year and now it’s like every month or so,” he said.
And there was another close call for a store near the 3000 block of West Montrose.
“This unidentified black vehicle, it backed into our store parking lot, then two guys, they tried to get in and one of our mechanics luckily grabbed them right away,” said Cool Heat Auto’s Luis Olalla Bodysuit in Montrose.
It’s a series of crimes causing thousands of dollars in damage, leaving store owners begging for help.
“Why? Why is this happening in an area like this where we have police half a mile from here,” Patel said. “If there are more patrols, more cars on the street, I think that would help prevent things a bit.”
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