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Auto Thefts Surge In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) – Statistics released Monday show that many Chicago crime rates are dropping while auto theft has spiked.

CBS 2's Kristyn Hartman takes a closer look at the nearly 17 percent uptick.

Yerik Kaslow has car keys, but he can't use them. 

That's because someone stole his 1995 Saturn with the brand new engine.  The day it disappeared he says he thought, "Wow.  I'm pretty sure my car was parked right here.  And now it's not anymore."

He went to file a police report.  At the station, he found people who shared his misery.

Coincidence or something more?  Chicago crime stats show car theft is up nearly 17 percent from year to year.  In Kaslow's Logan Square, it spiked about 10 percent.  But it's not among some of the hardest hit districts.

At the 25th District, Grand and Central, officers say they get about three or four auto theft walk-ins a day – just on third watch.  Six months into the year, they had nearly 900 of the roughly 10,000 car thefts in Chicago. 

State Farm insurance agent Ann Nolan says it's sometimes about car parts – and in the absence of security systems, sometimes about opportunity.  She also says their numbers don't reflect the car theft spike.

"That's because we have a lot of clients who have recently been dropping comprehensive coverage,"  she said, citing the recession.

Kaslow kept his coverage.  If he doesn't recover his Saturn, he should get a payout.  For now, his bike is his transportation. 

His advice for car owners?

"Lock your doors. Get a Club.  Park your car as near to your home as you can on a well-lit street," he said.

He took some of his own advice, and was still a crime victim.

Chicago police say they don't have one particular cause for the year-to-year increase in car theft.  But they say they are responding.  In June and July, they arrested at least six people tied to auto-theft rings or chop shops.

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