Police are warning residents to lock their cars following a recent surge in vehicles being burglarized and stolen throughout Lake County.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and several police departments in Lake County are reminding the community to follow basic crime prevention steps to avoid becoming a victim.
“Don’t leave cars running while unoccupied – even with the doors locked. Don’t leave spare keys or key fobs in the vehicle,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.
The sheriff’s office also said that residents should remove valuables from their vehicle, keep residential exterior lighting on during the overnight hours, consider video surveillance, and always call 911 regarding suspicious activity.
“This year over 60 reports have been made within the jurisdiction of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office of someone having their vehicle stolen (this figure does not include vehicle theft reports taken by municipal police departments),” Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.
“In the vast majority of these incidents the vehicle was either left unoccupied while running in a driveway, a parking lot, on the street, or the vehicle was parked, but a spare key or spare key fob was left inside the vehicle. Thieves rarely ‘hotwire’ vehicles anymore,” Covelli said.
Police said that the suspects have been particularly active in the predawn hours when car owners are warming their vehicle before they leave for work or school. During these times, vehicle thieves will cruise through neighborhoods looking for vehicles warming in driveways.
“When a vehicle is left running or keys/key fobs are left inside the vehicle, a thief can steal it in seconds. Often times if the stolen vehicle is located by law-enforcement, the thief flees from law-enforcement in the stolen car,” Covelli said.
Early Friday morning, several cars were stolen while being warmed up in northeastern Lake County in the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office, Covelli said. Additionally, at least three cars were stolen in Zion within the past day, the Zion Police Department said.
Two of the vehicles that were stolen in Zion were pursued by the officers after they were spotted in Kenosha.
One of the pursuits led back to Zion from Kenosha but police terminated the pursuit because of the potential danger to the public. Those suspects then stole another car and crashed it.
Zion police said that the suspects intended to steal a fourth car but instead only stole items from it after they discovered an infant in the car.
“These thieves have no regard for their own lives, the lives of the public or your property. If you start you car and leave it unattended and they get it, it will most likely be damaged or destroyed when it is located,” the Zion Police Department said.
Round Lake Heights police said that several vehicles, which were left running and unlocked, had been stolen between Monday and Tuesday in Round Lake Park, Round Lake Heights and Round Lake Beach.
Several people told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that vehicles in Ingleside, Hawthorn Woods, Lake Villa, Gurnee, Fox Lake, Park City and Libertyville had been burglarized this week.