A rash of burglaries at car dealerships across Chicagoland has placed owners on high alert. Take Imperial Motors, a Jaguar dealership with locations in Lake Bluff and Wilmette, which has been hit four times in the past six months.
“We are very vigilant about removing all keys from the cars and we block the garage doors with cars physically,” Jordan Aron, owner of Imperial Motors, told DailyNorthShore.
And yet the dealership’s Lake Bluff and Wilmette locations were both burglarized on Feb. 25, according to Wilmette and Lake Bluff police.
Police suspect four teens first broke into the Lake Bluff dealership around 10 p.m. by smashing a glass window in a service door, according to Aron and the Lake Bluff Police Department. But when the suspects got inside, Aron said, they were unable to steal any cars because the garage doors were blocked and there were no keys to be found.
Aron believes the teenagers involved with the Lake Bluff operation immediately went to the Wilmette dealership and broke in using the same method at 10:23 p.m. The teenagers’ activities in the Lake Bluff dealership were caught on video and the police were alerted across the North Shore. With a shared 911 system, Aron said, the police departments from all over the area worked together to capture the teens.
“The cops did a great job,” he said. “They were really on top of it. That was awesome.”
With police aware of the Lake Bluff break in, the Wilmette Police Department was able to intercept an alleged burglary in progress and arrested two teenagers immediately, according to the Wilmette Police Department. Two other teens ran away on foot and were captured hiding under a porch on the 1500 block of Highland Avenue, after a resident reported them, Aron said.
While the suspects did not steal any cars this time, Imperial Motors lost a total of four cars in the previous three burglaries that occurred in the past six months, Aron said. Instead of a night-time break in, those burglaries occurred during the day. Imperial Motors keeps all of its service doors locked and employees use the same doors as the customers for added safety.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” Aron remarked.
He said the phenomenon is frustrating for car dealers and police and he believes it stems from gang activity. The four teenagers who were arrested on Feb. 25 collectively have been arrested 72 times previously, according to a Wilmette Police Department press release dated Feb. 27.