"Test Drives" Lead to Stolen Cars

One salesman wound up with broken ribs during heist

By Alex Perez
|  Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011  |  Updated 10:37 PM CDT
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Police are warning South Side auto dealerships about three men who ask to take a test drive then force the employee out of the vehicle and drive away.

Police are warning South Side auto dealerships about three men who ask to take a test drive then force the employee out of the vehicle and drive away.

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Police are warning South Side auto dealerships about three men who ask to take a test drive then force the employee out of the vehicle and drive away.

There have been at least three similar incidents, police said, with one leaving a 40-year-old salesman with five broken ribs when he was caught between a car and a light pole on the dealership lot.

"This is endangering somebody's life at the same time. A car can be replaced but a human being cannot be replaced," Mohammad Ihmoud, the owner of S&M Auto Sales, said of the Oct. 26 incident.

One person is in custody for that incident, but similar incidents occurred within two weeks of each other and in roughly the same area, police said.

On Oct. 10, a person approached a 50-year-old salesman at a dealership in the 6800 block of South Oakley Avenue and asked to take a test drive. During the test drive, the driver showed a weapon, forced the salesman out of the vehicle and drove away, police said.

On Oct. 21,  a 38-year-old salesman at a lot on the 5600 block of South Western Avenue was asked by someone to test drive a vehicle. During the drive, two additional people entered the vehicle and forced the man out.

The robbers in those two incidents are described as black men between the ages of 20 and 30 who stand between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weigh about 200 pounds, police said. One of the men has dreadlocks and the other two have short hair.

Police said auto dealerships should request drivers’ licenses from customers prior to allowing a test drive and make sure other employees know of the test drive, the route that will be taken and an estimated time of return.

Anyone with information is asked to call Wentworth Area detectives at 312-744-8382.

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