Lock Your Car Doors? May Want to Check Again

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— A report from last week details an investigation of reports where thieves were attempting to gain entry to vehicles left open by their owners, a crime of opportunity which may be more common than many residents think, and often goes unreported, according to police.

On Tuesday, April 29, police were dispatched to Court – E5 on Elm Street to investigate reports of "unknown subjects" pulling on the latches of car doors in the parking lot.  Upon arrival, officers attempted to locate possible suspects with negative results.

Police then began searching the area for possible burglarized vehicles. One officer noticed a Cook County Correctional Officer’s jacket lying in the street, in the area of Elm and Gibson.  Police contacted Park Forest dispatch to locate the owner of the jacket.  Upon learning the identity of the owner of the jacket, police went to the owner’s residence to ask if the jacket had been taken from his vehicle.  The owner of the jacket took police to his vehicle, parked on the street in front of his residence.

It was at this point that the owner realized that someone had gained entry to his vehicle. Police observed that the glove box in the vehicle had been opened and searched.  The plasting covering around the steering column had been slightly peeled off with an unknown object.  There did not appear to be anything else missing from the vehicle.

There were no arrests in this case.  Police continue to investigate.

Corporal Scott Sheets of the Park Forest Police Department says that burglaries to auto, especially if there's no forced entry – something like a car door that's left unlocked – will go unreported. "People don't even realize oftentimes that the car has been entered until several days or maybe a week later. And even then, they may not realize that anything has been taken."

Sheets says the police department may pick up a suspect or suspects in one crime, "and they will admit to having committed numerous car burglaries, and they will give us specific information, a specific car description, and we'll go and attempt to find the victim of that, and realize that it's an unreported crime." He says when they make contact with the victim, the victim may will mention that they thought something was suspicious, "but didn't think that it was serious enough to report it."