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More police, cameras target rise in Bucktown, Wicker Park carjackings

Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Elizabeth Collazo said police are starting patrols earlier and conducting routine seatbelt checks to increase police visibility in the neighborhoods.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) speaks to reporters and community members about the increase in carjackings in his and neighboring wards at Churchill Park, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) speaks to reporters and community members about the increase in carjackings in his and neighboring wards at Churchill Park, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In May, Sheila Mulvaney moved to Bucktown from West Town to live in a smaller neighborhood.

On Sunday, Mulvaney said someone was mugged in front of her house.

“We're encountering the same problems we left,” Mulvaney, 48, said. “It’s got to stop.”

About 100 neighbors from Bucktown, Wicker Park and Logan Square met with aldermen and Chicago Police Department officers Tuesday evening at Churchill Park to address an uptick in carjackings in the area. CPD plans an increased police presence while additional cameras in the neighborhood and stricter prosecution of offenders are also part of the city’s plan to crack down on it.

Cmdr. Elizabeth Collazo said police are starting patrols earlier and conducting routine seatbelt checks to increase visibility in the neighborhoods. Aldermen from the city’s 1st, 2nd and 32nd Wards vowed to revisit state and local laws that detail whether someone is charged with a felony or misdemeanor.

“A lot of times, they’re being slapped on the wrist and let go, said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who hosted Tuesday’s meeting. “That has to change.”

While victims of carjackings are not to blame, Sgt. Mike Edens urged neighbors to call 911 “with no hesitation” if they see someone suspicious in an alley or idling in a car. Instead of checking one’s phone or putting in headphones, people should be aware of their surroundings when getting into and out of their cars, he said.

But trying to fight back has often put carjacking victims more at risk than if they surrendered their vehicle right away, Edens said.

“Remember, it’s property,” Edens said. “You’re going to replace property. You cannot try to replace the human life.”

Community members meet with aldermen and police at Churchill Park to discuss the rise in carjackings in their neighborhoods, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
Community members meet with aldermen and police at Churchill Park to discuss the rise in carjackings in their neighborhoods, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times