Murders, carjackings spike in 1st 3 months of 2021, although overall crime down from last year, police say

Murders this year rose 33% over the same period last year while shootings spiked 43%.

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A Chicago police squad car

Homicides in Chicago increased in March 2021, compared to last month and last year.

Getty file

While the pandemic drags on and continues to hamper many people’s routines, violent crime in Chicago isn’t taking a break.

Carjackings are higher than in 2020, and murders in the first three months of this year rose 33% over the same period last year while shootings spiked 43%.

But at the same time, overall crime in Chicago is down 27% in the first three months of 2021 over last year, when all major crimes — including sex assault, burglary and theft — are included.

The monthly crime statistics report released Thursday by the Chicago Police Department highlights some improvements since 2020, a year that saw a 50% spike in murders and carjackings amid civil unrest.

One positive in the report: Although carjackings are still higher than a year ago, carjackings in March were 33% lower than in February, police said. Feeling the pressure as carjackings more than doubled citywide in 2020, Chicago police Supt. David Brown added 40 officers and four sergeants to a carjacking task force in February.

Shootings and murders also rose this year. There were 706 shooting victims and 131 murders reported in the first three months of 2021, a steep rise from 2020, which saw 493 shooting victims and 98 murders over the same period.

Comparing March 2021 to March 2020 shows a similar increase. There were 298 shooting victims and 42 murders in March 2021, while there were 175 shooting victims and 28 murders in March 2020, according to the statistics.

Every metric for shootings and murders was higher in 2021 than in any of the years included in CPD’s report, which contained numbers going back to 2018.

Two officer suicides in March and four officers shot in the line of duty also shifted attention to department wellness. Police said they added two licensed clinicians to the force this year.

Violence against officers has also increased. This year, police officers have been shot at 21 times compared with nine officers shot in the same period last year, police said.

The CPD has also struggled with a coronavirus pandemic that infected more than 3,000 employees total. At the end of March, less than 70 offices remained off-duty with the virus. police said.

Another success touted by CPD is more than 2,700 guns recovered so far this year, up 25% from last year. More than 100 of those guns were assault weapons. Police also said they made more than 1,600 gun arrests this year, a 22% increase from 2020.

Aggravated battery, burglary, theft and other serious crimes are also at 20-year lows citywide, police said. Robberies also decreased 9% citywide year-to-date compared with last year. Seven districts are at the 20-year-best mark for robberies, according to year-to-date statistics. These districts include the Englewood, Chicago Lawn, Deering, Harrison, Austin, Morgan Park and Grand Central districts.

Read CPD’s full monthly crime report below:

Read more on crime, and track the city’s homicides.

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