March 28, 2023

SUV with child stolen in Libertyville


SUV with child stolen in Libertyville

00:36

After carjackers allegedly stole a pregnant Illinois mother’s Volkswagen SUV earlier this month with her infant son inside, running her over in the process, local deputies said they immediately contacted the automaker so they could use its crash-response system to help locate the car via GPS. The automaker declined.

The reason? The mother hadn’t paid a bill, according to local authorities.

The 34-year-old mother, who law enforcement officials haven’t named, said she called the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 23 and told police that the accused thieves had taken her 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and that her infant son still in the back seat. In hopes of quickly tracking the vehicle down, detectives immediately contacted Car-Net, the automatic crash response system on the vehicle, the Lake County, Illinois, sheriff’s office said in a report posted on Facebook. 

“Unfortunately, there was a delay, as Volkswagen Car-Net would not track the vehicle with the abducted child until they received payment to reactivate the tracking device in the stolen Volkswagen,” the sheriff’s office said.

Detectives told the Chicago Sun-Times that Volkswagen Car-Net wanted $150 to restart the service because the mother hadn’t made a recent payment. 

“Serious breach”

Volkswagen told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement that it takes customer safety seriously and is “addressing the situation.”

“Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement,” the German automaker said. “They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents. Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process.” 

After paying the balance on the mother’s Car-Net service, police said they located the vehicle about 11 miles south of her home. The alleged car thieves escaped, but officers recovered the infant, who was unharmed, after the driver released him in a parking lot. The mother, who is six months pregnant, has a broken pelvis and a broken elbow, CBS Chicago reported. She is in a local hospital in serious, but stable, condition, authorities said. 

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Police in Northern Illinois were searching for this 2021 Volkswagen Atlas but couldn’t get help from the German automaker until someone paid a past due bill. 

Lake County (Illinois) Sheriff’s Office


Christopher Covelli, deputy chief with the sheriff’s office, told the Sun-Times that it’s concerning when a company holds up information that could save someone’s life. 

“Most companies understand that those things take significant time and when time is of the essence and the information is needed now to potentially save a life,” he said. 

Lake County police said they’re still looking for the accused car thieves. 

Other automakers have GPS tracking systems for their vehicles. General Motors’ OnStar service will help law enforcement track a stolen vehicle, according to its safety website, but it’s unclear if customers must remain current on their payments. GM didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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