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Grand theft Chicago

October 29, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

It takes more than a push of a controller button to steal a car in Chicago, but that doesn't stop auto theft in the city. Not the case in Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto V." With 15 million copies of the game sold worldwide in the first three days of its September release, gamers have been busy lifting cars in the fictional city of Los Santos for weeks.

Almost 29 million copies of the game have sold in the first six weeks, kotaku.com reported Tuesday, making car theft a big business since the game's online and social features launched Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, Chicago is racking up its own numbers when it comes to auto theft. The city accounted for 63 percent of Illinois vehicle thefts in 2010, according to the Illinois Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Council. So far in 2013, about 22 cars have been stolen each day, amounting to 8,089 automobile thefts through Oct. 8, according to city crime data.

About 487 stolen cars have been recovered this year, with 362 arrests made in connection with the cases. Compared with the same period in 2012, the number of thefts is down about 21.5 percent.

Reasons for auto theft are plenty, the theft prevention council says, but four basic motives exist: joyriding, personal use, transportation to or from a crime scene, or for profit from selling the cars.

From 2008 to 2012, more than 70,000 vehicles were reported stolen in Chicago, with 2011 recording the most at 15,636. The thefts span throughout the city, with 42 of the city's 50 wards recording more than 100 stolen cars in 2013. Going back to 2008, Chicago's 6th Ward, which includes Englewood, Park Manor, Greater Grand Crossing, Chatham, Chesterfield, West Chesterfield and Roseland Heights, has consistently been a hot spot for theft, ranking in the Top 3 most affected areas each year.

mswasko@tribune.com

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