What would you do if you walked out of your home, workplace, or another location, and found that your vehicle was gone?
This may seem like an unlikely scenario—one that happens only in other places—but it is the reality for approximately 750,000 drivers every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available, Illinois ranked among the top 10 states for the most vehicles stolen.
Vehicle thefts happen year round, but are most prevalent in the summer. Accordingly, July has been designated National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month and it is an important time to learn about the danger of stolen vehicles and the criminal penalties someone may face if he or she steals a vehicle in Illinois.
Vehicle Theft May Lead to Other Dangerous Crimes
You have not been physically hurt by the vehicle theft—though you may be significantly inconvenienced and you may suffer considerable financial damages. However, your stolen vehicle may be used as part of another crime such as an assault or a robbery. For all of these reasons, the crime of vehicle theft must be taken seriously.
The Consequences for Stealing a Motor Vehicle in Illinois
In Illinois, a person who steals a vehicle may be found guilty of theft pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/16-1). The legal consequences for committing the crime depends on the value of the vehicle that was stolen and who owned the vehicle.
All of the potential consequences are significant. A person who steals a vehicle that is only worth $500 may face as long as five years in prison and be found guilty of a Class 3 felony. The consequences continue to increase incrementally as the value of the vehicle increases. Additionally, penalties are also imposed if it is a government vehicle. At the high end of the potential consequences for vehicle theft is a Class X felony conviction. This could occur if a government vehicle with a value of over $100,000, or any vehicle with a value of over $1,000,000, was stolen. An Illinois Class X felony carries a potential penalty of 30 years in prison.
If your vehicle has been stolen then we encourage you to contact both the police and your insurance company immediately to file reports so that you can start seeking a resolution this matter now.