Jon Yates' "What's Your Problem?"
November 25, 2012
You have to give the thief this much: He was certainly bold.
While Paul and Jean Sandquist sat blissfully unaware inside their Oak Park home on the afternoon of April 30, someone broke through the locked door to the couple's garage.
Once inside, the thief hot-wired the couple's 2005 Chrysler Town & Country minivan and drove off.
"I don't know how the heck they got the van going, but it was gone," Paul Sandquist said. "We didn't hear a thing."
Within hours of the couple calling police, the thief had driven through several camera-equipped red lights. Later, it racked up parking tickets.
On May 14, with the van still missing, the Sandquists' insurance company, Liberty Mutual, declared the vehicle a total loss. On May 31, Liberty Mutual paid off the van's loan and gained title to the vehicle.
By then, red light and parking tickets from the city of Chicago began to pour in.
The Sandquists successfully contested the first several citations, arguing that the van had been stolen when the infractions occurred.
But from May 14 through June 1, the thief accumulated 14 more parking tickets. Paul Sandquist said he wrote to the city asking that those tickets be dismissed too but did not immediately hear back.
In early October, the city sent the Sandquists a letter demanding immediate payment for the outstanding tickets — a total of $2,100.
When the couple didn't pay, the city forwarded the information to the state.
The Illinois secretary of state then sent Jean Sandquist a letter saying her license would be suspended Nov. 16 because she had more than 10 unpaid tickets.
Paul Sandquist said he sent a fresh round of letters to the city and made a new round of calls, hoping to persuade the city to rescind the suspension order.
"I wrote them about four letters, certified receipt," he said. "I explained the situation, but I'm shouting into the wind. No one's listening."
Worried his wife would unjustly lose her license, Sandquist emailed What's Your Problem? in mid-November.
He said his wife, 72, needs to drive because she often baby-sits her grandkids.
Sandquist said he called the city's Law Department in November and was told someone would look into it. But a decision, he was told, could take another month.
He asked the secretary of state's office to delay the suspension until the city had reviewed the case but was told that was not possible.
So on Nov. 16, the state suspended Jean Sandquist's license.
The Problem Solver spoke to Paul Sandquist that morning. He said he would have to drive his wife until the situation was resolved.
"Now I'm totally frustrated," he said.
The Problem Solver called secretary of state's office spokesman Dave Druker on the afternoon of Nov. 16. Druker confirmed that Jean Sandquist's license had been suspended, and that the suspension could only be lifted at the request of the city of Chicago.
The Problem Solver then called Kathleen Strand, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Finance, and forwarded her the Sandquists' information.
On Monday morning, Strand emailed to say all 14 tickets attributed to Jean Sandquist had been withdrawn by the city. City officials had subsequently notified the state to rescind Sandquist's suspension.
That afternoon, Druker called to say Sandquist's license had, in fact, been reinstated.
The Sandquists were elated.
Paul Sandquist, who had driven his wife earlier that day to baby-sit the grandkids, said he was relieved.
"Good," he said. "Now she can drive home."