City Council held a hearing on Friday on the increase in citywide carjackings. There were several agencies and governmental bodies invited to the public hearing. Representatives from the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Illinois State Police (ISP), Cook County State’s Attorney, and Cook County Sheriff’s Office were present to testify about their part of the joint efforts to curtail carjackings. The Cook County Court did not send a representative to speak about discretion on sentencing. You can view the meeting at the City Clerk website.
CPD emphasized that the carjackings we are seeing are overwhelmingly crimes of opportunity involving any type of vehicle. There have been 144 carjackings committed this year with many more attempted that are not categorized as carjackings but labeled attempted robberies.
Specific types of cars are not being targeted, so anyone with a vehicle is vulnerable to an attempt. Rideshare vehicles have seen a large number of carjackings, as have those who leave cars running unattended. Offenders are typically within the age range of 15-20 years old, and use the cars for joyrides, or to commit further crimes including carjackings.
When CPD is able to respond in time, the response is to avoid chases that can lead to injury of innocent bystanders. CPD did talk about implementing new technology and increasing use of other support tools like license plate readers (LPRs), additional helicopter air support that has been on the table for years, and interfacing CPD and business/home security cameras. Some of these tools are already in place in the 14th and 19th Districts in our communities, but we are working on increasing the number of cameras and LPRs for districts.
CPD is also building on their existing carjacking task force and will have detectives and officers focused on area teams as opposed to one citywide team. CPD will continue to work with the FBI, ISP, and Sheriff on anti-carjacking missions.
CPD has a listing of partner organizations that provide victim services, but their focus has been on tying together strings of evidence on different carjacking packs. For juvenile offenders, the State’s Attorney provides rehabilitative services if the offender is given probation. CPD and the State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) are working more collaboratively to build the strongest cases possible to satisfy the burden of proof. The SAO is communicating to CPD what evidence is sufficient, and is developing more creative cases, but without certain pieces of evidence, offenders are likely to walk away and commit additional crimes.
Aldermen asked for more frequent public updates and effective approaches to handling carjackings from all agencies. Until there is full cooperation from all bodies, we can’t tackle the problem in the way we need. The 14th District Office of Community Policing discussed some of the recent incidents of carjackings and stolen vehicles at the Bucktown/Logan Square beat meeting last night, and will be hosting a carjacking meeting in partnership with our office and the 1st Ward on Monday, January 25th at 6:00 p.m. (meeting details below).
Indoor Dining "likely" to Resume on Saturday - Chicago's COVID-19 positivity rates continue to decline. If the numbers continue in this trend, the City will be allowed to move into Tier 1 mitigations, allowing for indoor dining with restrictions to resume. Currently, Chicago (which is part of Region 11) is in Tier 2. You can find the most up-to-date status here. I encourage you to visit the City's COVID-19 website, where you can find detailed information on the vaccine and the phased rollout of the vaccination program, as well as read frequently asked questions and sign up for regular vaccine updates from the Chicago Dept of Public Health.
Alderman Scott Waguespack