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CATA reacts as luxury car thefts continue across Chicago, suburbs

February 24, 2017
The CATA is hosting a March 2 seminar that reviews theft prevention techniques and technologies available to dealers. The association also is producing window stickers for its dealer members to help them combat the current wave of car thefts.  
 
Experts have advised a number of best practices to thwart vehicle thefts:
 
DO NOT leave keys either in the car or out where they are accessible. All dealerships that have been victimized, regardless of how entry to the facility was made, have one thing in common: The keys were accessible.
 
DO NOT leave dealership license plates out where they are accessible. Maintain a strict inventory control system regarding license plates. You wouldn't leave the dealership corporate no-limit credit card in that location; don't leave the dealership license plates there, either. You are required by law required to maintain an accurate and up-to-date log for license plates, indicating which vehicle they are attached to.  
 
DO harden the target by controlling and restricting entry and egress. While methods/points of entry may vary, most, if not all, share the same point of exit: the overhead entry/exit door.
  
Regardless of the method of entry--forced (broken window/door), or unlawful (Trojan horse/remained within)--everyone leaves via the overhead entry/exit door.
Disable overhead doors: Turn off power to doors, put a lock in the roller track
DO institute a strict inventory system. For keys: Tag them and keep them with the work order or at the service writer's desk. At close of business, LOCK THEM UP. Put the keys in a locked file cabinet. 
 
License plates: Maintain an accurate plate log as prescribed by state law
 
Vehicles, new and used: Produce a floor plan map for each facility. Insert the inventory/stock number in the proper slot on the map. Make additions/changes as necessary.
• Only give out the keys necessary to accomplish the job.
• If you're going to test drive car #74 and #14 & #36 need to be moved only give out those keys.  Return the keys after moving the cars; don't leave the keys in the car.
 
Service vehicles
Produce a floor plan map for each facility. Insert the inventory/stock number in the proper slot on the map. Make additions/changes as necessary. 
 
Only give out the keys necessary to accomplish the job. If you're going to service tag unit No. 74, and Nos. 14 and 36 need to be moved, only give out those keys. Return the keys after moving the cars; don't leave the keys in the car.
 
DO utilize electronic security features, such as alarm systems and video systems. Mount some cameras at or slightly above face/head level.
 
Every dealership that has been victimized shares these elements:
 
• Availability of the keys/license plates
• Ability to easily exit the facility
• Relatively short time spent by offenders at the location
 
In the latest reported case, five cars collectively valued at more than $205,000 were stolen from a Libertyville dealership Feb. 19 and later were involved in a high-speed chase in Wisconsin, Libertyville police said.
The Libertyville heist came after six cars were stolen Feb. 13 from a west suburban Infinity dealer, a Porsche were stolen Feb. 3 from a North Shore dealer, and five luxury cars were stolen in late January from a Mercedes dealership in the northern suburbs.
Authorities have not said the acts are related, but Libertyville Police Lt. Bill Kinast noted the similarities of the thefts.
"Ours is very similar in that this happened very late at night and they broke into the service area and took cars from the service area," Kinast said.
Even when keys were removed from vehicles, some thieves acting overnight have managed to break into lockboxes for the keys.
During business hours, thieves have been getting into cars waiting to be serviced, and even climbed inside two freshly washed luxury cars and drove away.
"They had a mission. They walked right up, got right in the cars and left like they owned them," the victimized general manager said.
The stickers were being finalized in late February and CATA member dealers should receive 10 each by mid-March. 
More than 100 cars have been reported stolen from area dealerships in the past six months. Thieves first targeted dealerships in Chicago and near suburbs, but the list of victimized dealerships has expanded.
 
 

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