Tag Archives: vehicle

SMASH-AND-GRAB

A crime common in the 1930’s and 1940’s has returned with a new twist. Instead of an individual breaking through a store-front window to grab jewelry or other valuables out of the shop’s display, groups of thieves now are using cars and pick-up trucks to crash into shops. It’s a carefully orchestrated crime known as smash-and-grab.

These are not random acts of theft. High-end merchandise, especially designer handbags and clothing, is targeted. Think of Louis Vuitton handbags costing $2,000 to $6,000 and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes ranging from $300 to $700. Think of Giuseppe shoes for $1,000 a pair. Think of merchandise at GameStop.

Why do the thieves steal the high-end merchandise and ignore the inexpensive items? Robert Lombardo, associate professor of criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago, said thieves steal high-end merchandise because “that’s the stuff people want.” He explained that local thieves may attempt to sell the merchandise in the neighborhood. The merchandise stolen by professional criminals may be “bound for resale in other markets.”

Generally, the thieves target stores on streets rather than in malls. Wearing masks and gloves, the burglars drive a car or a van or a pick-up truck through the store’s front door or glass window. Then the thieves quickly grab as much high-end merchandise as they can carry, and they rush out the door. On November 26, 2014, the actions of one group of thieves were caught on a surveillance video in the store.

On April 17, 2018, a team of smash-and-grab thieves drove a stolen vehicle through the entrance of a GameStop in the 1500 block of North Cicero in the North Austin area of Chicago. The burglars stole cash and merchandise and then fled the scene. They left the stolen car embedded in the entrance of the store.

Stores in malls are not immune to smash-and-grab burglaries. On November 18, 2014, burglars drove through the outside entrance of the Northbrook Court mall and through a corridor before slamming into the Louis Vuitton store. The burglars were dressed in black pants and black hooded sweatshirts. They wore gloves and either ski masks or surgical masks.

A video surveillance system recorded the action as burglars with sledgehammers broke a hole in the glass, and the thieves climbed through the hole one after another to get into the store. They quickly gathered purses and bags from the shelves and from behind the counter, and then they ran into the mall.

A similar smash-and-grab burglary occurred September 7, 2014 at the Louis Vuitton store at the Oakbrook Center mall. Thieves rammed a minivan into the store and stole about $120,000 worth of merchandise. On November 4, 2014, a smash-and-grab occurred at the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall in Aurora. A minivan rammed through the front window of Salvatore Ferragamo. The burglars stole $40,000 worth of purses and luggage.

—By Karen Centowski


To see the surveillance video of a smash-and-grab in Chicago, go to the November 27, 2014 Chicago Tribune article, “Crash-and-grab burglars hitting high-end stores in suburbs and Chicago.”

DEALER WANTS TO BUY YOUR CAR

If you are the owner of a Chevrolet, you may have recently received a postcard from a manager at the Chevrolet dealership where you purchased the car. On this computer-generated postcard, the manager says that she is interested in buying your 2009 Chevrolet Impala. She says that the Chevrolet dealer has customers looking for these vehicles, but they don’t have any on their lot. She asks you to please call her ASAP, and she gives her phone number.

The postcard itself is a top-notch job in marketing. The name, address, phone number, and logo of the local dealership on the postcard gets your attention and keeps you from immediately throwing the postcard into the wastebasket. You have done business with this dealer in the past and have had a good experience. In fact, you probably continue to take your car to that dealer for routine maintenance. If you’ve ever needed a major repair, for sure you have taken the vehicle to a Chevrolet dealer. The “message” on the card is written in the handwriting style of a woman. It’s a personal touch to a business transaction. Finally, the writer appeals to the universal desire for a good deal by saying, “As a manager, I can offer you more!”

Is this a legitimate offer to buy your car, or it simply a trick to get you into the dealership so they can sell you a new car? Does the dealer actually have a potential customer who wants to buy a 2009 Chevrolet Impala? How much more in cash can the manager really offer? If she gives you $500 more than the Kelly Blue Book trade-in value of your car, is that really such a good deal? You would no longer have your car and would have to buy another one. You’d be standing there in the dealer’s showroom salivating over all the new cars. The dealer has you exactly where he wants you.

Ask yourself this question: Would a dealer send out thousands of postcards to find one 2009 Chevrolet Impala to sell? With all due respect to owners of 2009 Chevrolet Impalas, these are not high value collector cars. How much money would the dealer make by selling one 2009 Chevrolet Impala?

More likely, a computer at Chevrolet headquarters has generated thousands of postcards to Chevrolet owners like you. Each postcard is personalized with the owner’s name in the “handwritten note.” Each postcard names the correct make and model of the owner’s car. Each postcard is “signed” by a manager at the dealership. It is all a clever marketing tool to get you into the showroom.

If you really are interested in buying a new Chevrolet, do your research and go to your friendly Chevrolet dealer. You don’t need an invitation. They will be delighted to see you.

—By Karen Centowski

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN ISSUANCE OF DRIVER’S LICENSES

Illinois Drivers License

On May 17, 2016, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced a significant change in the issuance of new driver’s licenses and renewals of existing licenses and State ID cards. The changes are being made to better identify and prevent fraud and identity theft and to meet the requirements of REAL ID mandated by the Department of Homeland Security.

If a driver goes to a Driver’s License Examining Facility to obtain a new driver’s license/State ID or to renew an existing license, he will no longer receive his permanent driver’s license/State ID at the end of the application process. Instead, he will be given a temporary secure paper driver’s license/State ID. This paper document is valid for 45 days. The old driver’s license/State ID card will be given back to the applicant with a hole punched in the driver’s license/State ID.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stated that it will accept the paper document along with the old driver’s license/State ID to board an airplane until the individual receives his new driver’s license card/State ID.

The information for the new driver’s licenses/State IDs will be sent to a central location in Illinois. Fraud checks will be conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity. Then a higher quality, more secure driver’s license/State ID will be printed and mailed to the applicant’s address within 15 business days.

The transition to central issuance will take place in phases. Beginning May 17, 2016, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver’s licenses with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, Driver’s License Examining Stations throughout the state will implement a gradual rollout of the new central issuance with the new card design. All driver service facilities will have transitioned to central issuance by the end of July 2016.

For more information, go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

-By Karen Centowski

LATE VEHICLE REGISTRATION FINES PRODUCE A NEW CASH COW IN ILLINOIS

Cash Cow

Since the Illinois Secretary of State stopped sending vehicle license plate sticker renewal reminders in October of 2015, many motorists missed the deadline for renewing their vehicle license plate stickers. CapitolFax.com has reported that Illinois motorists paid $1.7 million in late vehicle registration fines for the month of March, 2016. The total Illinois late vehicle registration fines paid in 2016 are up to $6.5 million.

By comparison, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office collected $2.2 million in late vehicle renewal fees during the first three months of 2015. Over 247,000 motorists in Illinois received fines for late vehicle registration renewal in the first three months of 2016, compared with 111,000 motorists in January, February, and March of 2015.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office had stopped sending reminder notices to save $450,000 a month during the budget stalemate in Springfield. However, the result has proved very unpopular with Illinois motorists who see this as a cash cow, something which makes a lot of money for the State of Illinois at the expense of the residents. Illinois legislators have responded to the cries of their constituents by introducing a bill to provide relief.

On April 12, 2016, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 4334, which prohibits the Secretary of State from charging fees to vehicle owners who renew their vehicle registration late due to the Secretary of State’s suspension of mailed renewal notices. In addition, the bill provides that a vehicle owner who receives a ticket for expired vehicle license plates within one month of the expiration date does not have to pay the fine if the plates expired during the period in which the Secretary of State had suspended mailed vehicle registration reminder notices.
House Bill 4334 is now before the Illinois Senate. The bill would take effect upon becoming law. However, it is not retroactive to October of 2015 when the Illinois Secretary of State stopped sending vehicle registration reminder notices.

Meanwhile, set up some system to remind yourself of the time to renew your vehicle sticker. Select a date a month or two in advance of the renewal deadline. Then write this on your calendar, enter it into your Smartphone, put a sticky note on your refrigerator, or tie a string around your finger. Do something to avoid this trap!

—By Karen Centowski