When we make a car reservation, there's a designated return time in the rental car contract. Travel enough and there are very legitimate reasons that renters desire to keep a car longer than originally reserved; plans do change and I recently kept a car late during the 2017 Delta operational breakdown. However, our team always calls the rental car company if we're going to return a vehicle late; in many cases, that's sufficient to get the rental car company to just charge for the extra time but eliminate the early/late return fees. Then we hear from individuals who forget when a vehicle's due; one of our team even returned a car one-day late earlier this year without noting. Knowing that the vast majority of renters who keep a car late are earnest, rental car companies tend to simply add a new authorization to the credit card on file and wait a few days. Laws vary by state but three days late (without notification) makes a renter eligible for felony charges. However, there's a tiny subset of customers who aren't earnest and don't intend to return the car at all. Those individuals end up featured in our "Felony Friday" series and often add many crimes in addition to the theft of the rental car, as a recent case in Chicago illuminates.
Chicago's been featured in our blog before. Excessive taxes and taxes levied on rentals outside of Chicago are particular low points. And Chicago has statistically encountered an increase in violent crime to the point a County Commissioner recommended U.N. Peacekeeping Forces. So what happens when some dedicated criminals decide to rent cars with no inclination of returning the car? CBS Chicago 2 reports on a group who decided to use a stolen rental car in a crime spree. And the group of individuals was already very familiar to the criminal justice system. The story started with a car rented in Minneapolis with false information, which is never a good start for a rental car company.
Most of us consider funerals to be somber events. Well, our group of four criminals in Chicago decided to use firearms during said event. The car had been used in:
multiple shootings earlier in the day, including one in front of the church where the funeral was held.
Yeah, shootings at a funeral is going to alert the cops to the funeral procession and the vehicle was stopped. What did the cops discover?
After stopping that stolen car, police found three handguns with high-capacity magazines and high-impact ammunition, police said. The four suspects who were taken into custody had been arrested a combined 160 times.
Make that a combined 164+ times. The police said the SUV was already on their radar (figuratively and literally) for charges ranging from:
"Aggravated assault on Chicago police officers, trying to run down an officer; another shooting; and several pursuits in the city and the 15th District"
How do the local police in Chicago recommend stopping individuals who've been arrested more than 160 times from committing more crimes? The AutoSlash team (and the vast majority of individuals) would recommend "aggressive prosecution". However, the recommendation from the police is that the rental car companies report thefts earlier. Long-term, we do expect to hear from rental car companies if we accidentally keep cars late (via e-mail and telephone) but it would likely be easier -- and safer for the community -- if career detainees were removed from the populace!
The local police need to develop this type of relationship with prosecutors!