CPD unveils new online site to help the city as carjacking surge continues

The Chicago Police Department on Wednesday unveiled a carjacking-specific website as law enforcement continues to combat the troubling increase in carjackings plaguing the city and its surrounding areas.

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Supt. David Brown announces a new page on the Chicago Police Department website to aid in the city’s fight to curtail carjackings during a news conference Wednesday in CPD headquarters.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Chicago Police Department on Wednesday unveiled a dedicated webpage about carjackings for the public as law enforcement continues to combat the troubling surge in vehicular hijackings plaguing the city and its surrounding areas.

Supt. David Brown on Wednesday also provided an update on the department’s effort to cut carjackings.

The webpage, within the Chicago Police Department’s website, provides prevention tips intended to help the public avoid becoming carjacking victims as well as information about recently solved crimes, surveillance video and booking photos of adult suspects. It also allows the public send in tips.

This comes as the city continues to see an alarming spike in vehicular hijackings through the first 10 weeks of 2021 even after reported carjackings more than doubled between 2019 and 2020.

Brown said there have been 368 reported carjackings that have taken place across Chicago this year. Meanwhile, 323 people have been arrested for motor vehicular-related charges in 2021, and about 44% of the offenders arrested have been juveniles, according to Brown.

Some of those arrests are the result of operations conducted by a joint task force of local and federal law enforcement personnel. This weekend alone, the task force made a dozen arrests, including 10 for felonies and two misdemeanors, police said.

Brown spotlighted one incident from last weekend, which included a ride-share driver who was carjacked at gunpoint by his passengers on the South Side.

In that incident, the man was sitting in his 2011 silver Hyundai Elantra in the Rosemoor neighborhood around 8:30 p.m. when a group of teenagers, who ordered the ride, approached him and demanded he hand over his car.

At first, the man refused, but then he said he felt something pressed against his head.

“That’s when I saw it was a gun,” the victim said Wednesday.

The three 15-year-olds took off in the Hyundai and went for a joyride throughout the South and West Sides at “dangerously high speeds,” the victim and Brown said.

Officers ultimately were able to track the stolen vehicle down with the help of air support that’s part of the joint task force and arrested the three teenagers in Merrillville, Indiana.

The juvenile offenders were ultimately released to their parents, with the possibility of additional charges being added later, Brown said.

“Our young people need better, [and they] need mentors to show them the way,” Brown said. “... A system of support is the best deterrent, and to those that do offend, we need real consequences. The Uber driver will never forget what happened on Saturday night.”

That’s why, Brown said, his department is working with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to ensure stronger prosecutions for these crimes.

“Chicago cops are doing their job,” Brown said. “There must be consequences for this behavior regardless of their age.”

Brown attributed schools not being open and the lack of social interaction due to the pandemic as possible reasons carjackings are up among minors.

“If school was in session, a lot of this wouldn’t be happening,” Brown said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart also said the effects of the pandemic are partially to blame for the rise in carjackings, adding that the issue extends far beyond city limits.

“For anybody who has some illusions that this is just a Chicago problem, it is not just a Chicago problem. It’s going on ... all around the county, but as someone who has jurisdiction and doing work all throughout suburban Cook County, we have a large uptick in suburban Cook County as well,” Dart said.

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