CROWN POINT — Police are investigating whether two teenagers arrested last weekend after a high-speed chase into Chicago might be responsible for a rash of vehicle thefts and thefts from vehicles across Lake County.
The pursuit began just after 1:45 a.m. Saturday after Crown Point police responded to a report of four men possibly breaking into vehicles and found a stolen pickup truck abandoned in the 1200 block of Covington Court.
Officers saturated the area and noticed a small gray Toyota in the 11300 block of Delaware Street. The car matched a vehicle description associated with the four suspicious men.
The Toyota driver pulled into a driveway, and an officer stopped in the street behind him and shined a spotlight into the car, according to a police report. The Toyota driver took off through the home's front yard, sped north on Delaware, east on 109th Avenue and entered Interstate 65.
Crown Point called off the pursuit as the cars approached U.S. 30, because of building traffic and speeds approaching 120 mph. A Lake County sheriff's officer, who had positioned himself in the area to join the chase, resumed the pursuit, records show.
The Toyota driver repeatedly swerved and attempted to hit police vehicles, reached speeds of 130 mph, cut off vehicles and passed on the shoulder as the chase continued to Chicago's South Side.
The driver hit another vehicle at 71st Street and Lafayette Avenue, just off the Dan Ryan Expressway. The other vehicle's driver, a 61-year-old man, suffered a head injury, reports say.
The Toyota driver continued to 71st and Vincennes Avenue, where he was boxed in by traffic. Four occupants fled the vehicle on foot.
Lake County police chased the driver, who eventually was subdued with a Taser as he ran and fell into the grass, according to a report. Chicago police took one of the passengers into custody in the 7100 block of South Lafayette. Both were taken to hospitals.
During the chase, dispatchers advised the Toyota had been reported stolen in Hinsdale, Illinois.
A Lake County sheriff's detective was familiar with the two teens taken into custody, a report says.
Back in Crown Point, officers checked the area where the pursuit started and found two garages had been entered along with several vehicles. Several more reports of thefts from vehicles came in the next morning.
Police in Dyer, St. John and Schererville all confirmed they're investigating whether the teens might be linked to vehicle thefts and thefts from vehicles in their towns this summer.
Schererville police responded to eight thefts from vehicles in May and nine in June. One vehicle was stolen and later recovered in Chicago, Cmdr. Jeff Cook said. The thieves targeted several neighborhoods and a couple of businesses, he said.
Dyer Police Chief Dave Hein said his department is working with agencies in Illinois and has identified several different groups responsible for thefts from vehicles. Dyer police have recovered one vehicle stolen from Dyer and four from communities in Illinois as part of their investigation, he said.
Munster police responded to more than 20 thefts from vehicles and two vehicle thefts in May and June, Lt. Ed Strbjak said.
In a July 5 case, Munster police searched the area near State Line Road and Broadmoor Avenue for three people possibly breaking into vehicles. Meanwhile, Lansing police, who had received similar calls, arrested one person.
In the vast majority of cases, vehicles were left unlocked, Stbjak said.
"It's a crime of opportunity," he said. "We need people to lock their cars."