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Albany Park carjacker dragged woman, drove off with 8-year-old boy in backseat: prosecutors

Veronica Harden, 36, is also accused of throwing a 64-year-old woman out of her vehicle in another carjacking.

Man charged in stabbing June 25, 2021
A 36-year-old woman appeared in court Feb. 27, 2021, on multiple carjacking charges.
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An Albany Park woman accused of two recent Northwest Side carjackings was ordered held on $1 million bail Saturday for allegedly driving off with an 8-year-old boy in one incident and throwing a 64-year-old woman out of her vehicle in the other.

Prosecutors said Veronica Harden, 36, drove off with the 8-year-old boy Feb. 6 while his mother was walking the boy’s friend to the friend’s father in the parking lot of an Aldi store at 3320 W. Belmont Ave.

When the boy’s mother turned around, she saw Harden leaving with her son in her vehicle and managed to grab onto the door handle, screaming for her to let her son out, Cook County prosecutors said during a web-streamed bail hearing.

Harden kept driving about 20 feet down Belmont Avenue, dragging the mother and causing her to suffer a broken foot, broken ribs and a punctured lung, prosecutors said.

The boy jumped out of the moving vehicle on Belmont Avenue, suffering a minor injury to his ankle, prosecutors said.

Officers later found the vehicle in the parking garage of Harden’s home near Montrose and Kedzie, with some of the rightful owner’s personal belongings still inside, prosecutors said. Authorities didn’t outline how they tracked it down.

Harden was arrested Thursday in the 4200 block of North Richmond Street when she was found in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that had been violently stolen a day earlier in the parking lot of a Walgreens at 4343 N. Kedzie Ave., prosecutors said.

In that alleged carjacking, Harden approached a 64-year-old woman who was leaving the store and demanded her vehicle, prosecutors said. When the woman refused, Harden allegedly grabbed her by her clothes and threw her out of the vehicle, then drove off.

Both carjackings were captured on the stores’ surveillance cameras. Harden was arrested in the same clothes she had been seen wearing during the second incident, prosecutors said.

Police suspect the vehicle stolen in the Aldi’s parking lot was later involved in a hit-and-run that left 31-year-old cyclist Alexandra Betzel in critical condition, but no charges have been filed in that incident.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Susana Ortiz set Harden’s bond at $1 million on several felony charges including aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery.

Harden is due back in court March 5.