A gang of five car thieves stole nearly half the inventory of high-end used vehicles, valued at $932,000, at The Autobarn Collection on Greenwood Street, just west of Dodge Avenue.

The theft was discovered early Monday, when the dealership opened. A broken window provided access to the building, where normally 25 vehicles are housed, according to Sam Nastafa, a managing partner.

Security cameras revealed there were five thieves, who busted open a safe that contained keys to the 14 vehicles that included four Mercedes, three Audis, two Porsches, a BMW, a Dodge Durango, a Bentley GTC, a Maserati Levante, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The theft of the vehicles started shortly after 2 a.m. Monday.

Evanston Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew, a 25-year veteran of the force, said he has never experienced an auto theft of this magnitude in his years in Evanston. Nastafa, the dealership’s partner, said Tuesday that he was “shocked” when he learned of the crime.

Cmdr. Glew said that a list of the vehicles, including license numbers, has been distributed to departments in the Chicago area and that particular attention will be focused on possible use by the vehicles in the commission of other crimes.

“One by one they may begin to show up,” he predicted.

Update 10 a.m. 3/9/22:

In case you were wondering how five people made off with 14 cars, Cmdr. Glew this morning says the thieves drove off with cars and then returned for more — for a total of three visits to the dealership.

And he says the investigation now indicates there were at least six people involved in the thefts.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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