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South Loop Woman Has Cautionary Tale After She Was Victim Of Bump-And-Run Auto Theft

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As you get on the road, this is a reminder about a scary new tactic used by some thieves.

They rear end your car, and then steal it. Such a crime is known as a bump-and-run.

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas shared the story Wednesday morning of a South Loop woman who wants to get the word out, as car thefts are on the rise.

Katerina Makina said another driver rear-ended her Monday night near 14th Street and Indiana Avenue after she stopped at a stop sign.

"It was pretty impactful, I would say," she said.

So Makina got out to check for damage. That was when the other driver got out of his car, hopped into hers, and sped off.

"My first instinct was, thank God my daughter or other kids were not in the car with me, because that person who did it - he didn't even look," she said. "He just run into the car and took off."

Chicago Police classify that kind of crime not as a carjacking, but a car theft. Car thefts have steadily declined over most of the past 20 years, but in the past two years, the numbers are trending in the wrong direction citywide.

Last month, more than 1,100 car thefts were reported across Chicago. That is up from 800 in January of 2021 and 670 in January 2020.

On the Near South Side, the yearly totals more than doubled from 95 in 2020 to 215 in 2021.

And the Near South Side has already had 42 such reports this year, making them the community with the third most in the city.

"Clearly, I think the pandemic has had some impact," said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd).

In a phone call, Ald. Dowell said criminals may be targeting the area because of its wealthy residents.

"I do think there's a belief by people that perpetrate that crime that there are cars to be had in the South Loop - maybe the type of cars they're looking for," Dowell said.

Dowell says she allocated money last year for license plate readers and cameras. Police told Makina they're using those to try to find her gray Infiniti X50.

"My husband rented a car because we need a car," she said. "We have one car, and we have to drive our daughter all around, so we need the car."

Makina said the thief simply left the original car in which they pulled up at 14th and Indiana. She said police later told her that car was also stolen.

Police say you should always keep your cellphone in your pocket while driving. Meanwhile, if you are the victim of a car crash, you should call 911 – and consider not getting out of your car until police arrive on the scene.

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