Congratulations to our June 2022 Officers of the Month: Police Officer David Olson, Police Officer Christopher Irlweg, Police Officer Ruben Romero, and Police Officer Maricela Simon.
DETAILS: There was a sophisticated vehicle theft pattern identified regarding the thefts of Dodge and Jeep vehicles using a key reprogramming device to make a blank key fob into a copy of a legitimate key fob to steal these types of vehicles within the Chicago area. After stealing these vehicles, this crew would “retag” them with counterfeit VIN tags and use stolen license plates for sale on the black market.
Partially in response to this crime problem, the newly created Security Operations Center at O’Hare Airport was created and staffed by Department of Aviation and CPD Officers assigned to the Airport Law Enforcement Unit. This Center, coupled with the O’Hare Tactical Team, had been conducting follow-up investigations regarding a pattern of numerous stolen Jeep and Dodge vehicles at O’Hare and Midway parking lots that began in November of 2021.
Information was developed that an orange Dodge Charger that had been reported stolen may be involved in the vehicle thefts at O’Hare. Officers Ruben Romero, Chris Irlweg, and Maricela Simon were assigned to the detail responsible for patrolling the parking lots and were able to locate an orange Charger. A VIN and license plate check revealed that neither one was registered to the Charger. An Illinois license plate was found on the ground about 100’ from the charger. This license plate was run and came back to the stolen Charger.
Officer David Olson began to review the video footage to try and ascertain a physical description of who was driving this stolen Charger.
While processing the stolen vehicle and awaiting a tow truck, our awardees monitored a dispatched call of two suspicious males wearing all black and masked walking in the O’Hare parking lot. One male matching the description dropped a backpack and fled from the Officers as they arrived, making good his escape. This backpack was later recovered, and its contents were found to include an auto-key programmer, 9 new key fobs, 2 crow bars, and out-of-state license plates.
Other Officers were stopped by a male who asked the Officers if they could assist him in locating his orange Dodge Charger. Since he matched the description of the suspicious person, they radioed our awardees who took him into custody. Detectives were contacted and, along with Officer Olson, questioned this subject. He subsequently gave a full confession admitting to his involvement in numerous auto thefts from O’Hare and Midway parking lots. He also implicated two co-offenders in this ring, who are still at-large, and freely spoke about his expertise in re-programming key fobs and retagging the stolen vehicles with counterfeit VINs and switching license plates.
Thanks to our awardees’ diligence and investigative acumen, dozens of stolen vehicle cases were cleared and lead to the recovery of numerous stolen cars. The offender was charged with numerous charges, including felony Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicles. Congratulations on a job well done.