CRYSTAL LAKE – Several vehicles were burglarized in Crystal Lake on Saturday in what police describe as a “smash-and-grab” job.
At least 10 vehicles were broken into between 3:45 and 5 p.m. in two parks and a country club.
Seven vehicles were broken into at Lippold Park, two were broken into at Veteran Acres Park, and at least one was broken into at the Crystal Lake County Club, said Crystal Lake Police Cmdr. Dan Dziewior and Crystal Lake Park District Police Chief Ron Lyons.
The agencies worked together on the string of burglaries, but no one has been arrested.
The vehicles' windows were smashed, and the thieves took purses, wallets, cellphones and other items visible from outside the car. Lyons said the “smash-and-grab” technique is the sign of an inexperienced burglar looking for quick cash.
“Professional thieves will open the car without breaking windows, go into purses, leave cash and take the credit cards,” Lyons said. “Then they'll go to high-end electronic stores and spend several thousand dollars.
“The people who smash windows are not professional car burglars. They're just looking for cash.”
A witness at Veteran Acres Park who saw the burglar's car as it sped away said the vehicle had an out-of-state license plate, Lyons said.
Saturday was a busy day at both parks as parents were watching children play weekend sports. The burglars jumped from park to park and were one step ahead of police and unsuspecting victims, Dziewior said.
“Lippold Park is a circus on the weekends,” he said. “Every parking lot is full of cars. People are outside and don't want to bring their purses and wallets with them [to the fields].”
Most of the burglaries were in the park district's jurisdiction, but the Crystal Lake Police assisted with four cases, Dziewior said.
Lyons said that park-goers should always keep valuables out of sight from their car windows to prevent future burglaries.
“We've never had a car ransacked, looking for stuff,” Lyons said. “Every burglary we've had has involved taking an item seen from the outside.”