For 30 minutes, Volkswagen tracking service wouldn’t help deputies find stolen car with toddler inside

Detectives scrambled for a credit card number to pay the tracking service $150 to obtain the car’s GPS location but by then, the boy had been found unharmed.

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Deputies were stymied for 30 minutes when a car-tracking service insisted on a $150 payment before helping them find a Volkswagen that had been stolen with a toddler still inside.

File photo

As Lake County deputies desperately tried to find a stolen Volkswagen with a toddler still inside, they reached out to Car-Net, a service that lets VW owners track their vehicles.

But the Car-Net trial period had ended, and a representative wanted $150 to restart the service and locate the SUV.

The detective pleaded, explaining the “extremely exigent circumstance,” but the representative didn’t budge, saying it was company policy, sheriff’s office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said Friday.

“The detective had to work out getting a credit card number and then call the representative back to pay the $150 and at that time the representative provided the GPS location of the vehicle,” Covelli said.

By then, it didn’t even matter.

About 30 minutes had passed, and “we had already located the 2-year-old child and located the vehicle before they even provided us the information, so it was at that point worthless,” Covelli said.

Volkswagen issued a statement calling the incident “a serious breach of the process.”

“Volkswagen takes the safety and security of its customers very seriously. Our thoughts are with the victims and their family,” the statement read. “... We are addressing the situation with the parties involved.”

The boy was left unharmed in a Waukegan parking lot. His mother, six months pregnant, was run over by the carjackers and suffered several broken bones.

She was taken in serious condition to a hospital, where she was being treated Friday, police said.

Covelli said the sheriff’s office has worked with other car tracking services during emergencies. Typically the officer is asked to attest to the level of urgency and why certain records are needed.

“Obviously, it’s a major concern when there’s information that could potentially save a life and there are major hurdles that one has to jump over to try to get that information,” Covelli said. “Most companies understand those things take significant time when time is of the essence and the information is needed now to potentially save a life.”

The attack occurred in the 16000 block of Illinois 137, the sheriff’s office said. The woman, 34, had just pulled into her driveway and brought one of her children into the house. As she returned for the toddler, a BMW stopped in the driveway and a male passenger got out.

The man struggled with the woman, knocked her to the ground and got into the SUV, the sheriff’s office said, running over her as he drove off. The BMW followed.

No arrests have been reported.

Police continue to search for the BMW, described as white with a black bumper and a loud exhaust. It was stolen within the last week from a dealership in Waukegan, police said.

Police are looking for this BMW which was stolen in the past week from a car dealership in Waukegan. Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Lake County Sheriff’s Office

The man who stole the SUV was described as tall and thin, wearing a gray zip-up sweatshirt and a light green face mask.

Anyone with information can call the Lake County sheriff’s criminal investigations division at 847-377-4000 or contact Lake County CrimeStoppers at www.lakecountycrimestoppers.org.

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