Dozens of stolen vehicles discovered in a Far South Side salvage yard Monday may have been part of a scheme that involved scrapping cars and trucks for parts, a source familiar with the investigation said.

Police in the South Chicago District, where the salvage yard is located, have seen a dramatic jump in the number of vehicle thefts in recent months, according to the source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

After one theft that occurred late Sunday or early Monday, a group of relatives scoured the area for the missing vehicle, according to the source. The group spotted the stolen vehicle in the salvage yard, which is located in the 3000 block of East 106th Street, the source said.

Police arrived at the lot about 11 a.m. for a report of a stolen vehicle, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Thomas Sweeney said Monday. When officers arrived, they found the vehicle in a business parking and storage area, and on further investigation, determined there were a number of other vehicles parked at the lot that had been reported stolen, Sweeney said.

Because of the “volume and complexity” of the investigation, “disposition is expected to take some time,” Sweeney said.

Between 70 and 100 stolen vehicles were believed to have been in the salvage yard at the time, according to the source familiar with the investigation. Many of the vehicles were commercial vehicles, from businesses such as plumbing companies, the source said.

Police believe a group of people affiliated with a towing company had been stealing vehicles for six months, the source said.

“It could be scores and scores, dozens and dozens of people” who were involved, the source said.

A man connected with the business at the property is in police custody and has admitted to knowing about an operation involving the stolen vehicles, another official said. Police were preparing a search warrant to more thoroughly search the property and connections to any possible illegal activity.

The News Affairs office has not confirmed an estimate of the number of vehicles involved.

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