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A Chicago Police car guards the entrance to Adelman's Truck & Equipment yard at 3033 E. 106th on Tuesday. | Sun-Times~Brian Jackson

Salvage yard with suspected stolen vehicles got city tax break

An “embarrassed” Southeast Side alderman vowed Tuesday to recoup the property tax savings he championed for a scrap yard at the center of an investigation into stolen vehicles.

Two years ago, Ald. John Pope (10th) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel persuaded City Council to approve an incentive that allowed Adelman’s Truck and Equipment Corp. to forge ahead with a $2.5 million expansion of a scrap facility at 3033 E. 106th.

The subsidy will cost Chicago taxpayers roughly $162,000 over a dozen years. In exchange, the company vowed to add 24 jobs to a skeletal staff of four.

“These projects will support new investment, strengthen our economy and create new job opportunities for residents,” Emanuel said at the time.

Now, Adelman’s finds itself embroiled in a police investigation.

Police said they suspect the facility was operating as a chop shop with 19 suspected stolen vehicles — and possibly more — found on the lot since Monday.

One person was in custody Tuesday in connection with the operation, but no charges were filed, a source said.

Police launched their investigation after a family began scouring the neighborhood for a missing white truck Monday. The truck’s owner spotted the vehicle on the salvage yard property and called police.
Investigators discovered more suspected stolen vehicles, including a stripped Jeep with a working engine.

The South Chicago police district, where the business is located, has seen a spike in vehicle thefts this year. Motor vehicle theft was up 275 percent between March 3 and March 9 and up 22 percent between Jan. 1 and March 9, according to the police department’s latest online statistics.

“I’m shocked, embarrassed, surprised,” said Pope of the probe at Adelman’s.

“If it’s found true that they were doing this and within their knowledge, I would look to recoup those monies from them,” he said. “Up until yesterday, they operated a very good business. They were a model. Then this came about. I’m offended.”

Still, Pope said he has no regrets. The tax break helped seal a deal for Adelman’s to shift some operations from Ohio to Chicago, he said.

“We were able to get them on the property that was former Wisconsin Steel property — one of the first developments on that site that helped to move that whole development forward. Now, we see others who are interested. They were actually looking at expanding,” Pope said.

Adelman’s, founded in 1926, is a “world-wide, multi-faceted organization serving customers on six continents,” its website says. The main office is in Canton, Ohio, where used trucks are sold and other vehicles are scrapped. The Chicago facility extracts reusable parts for sale and “the remainder goes to the recycling pool as bare commodities,” the company says.

A Chicago Police source said thieves have gravitated to scrap yards and auto-parts dealers over the past decade because they’ve become increasingly unregulated. Drug dealers have gravitated to the scrap industry as a way to launder their illicit profits, the source added.