Report: Car theft in Chicago on the rise

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CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 19: Chicago police officers attended a graduation and promotion ceremony at Navy Pier on November 19, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 12:00 PM PT – Friday, January 22, 2021

The Chicago Police Department has reported an alarming increase in the number of carjackings. At a press conference on Thursday, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said over 140 carjackings had been committed since the start of January.

If the trend continues, the city will likely reach a record two thousand incidents by the end of the year. So far the department has arrested 104 suspects, their reported motives have included joyriding and using the stolen vehicle to commit various other crimes.

Deenihan explained carjackers often work in groups of three or four, which means officers are searching not only for the person who stole the car, but a number of other people who aided in the theft.

A fourth person has now been charged with the murder of a 65-year-old retired Chicago fire lieutenant, which happened during an attempted carjacking on December 3.

Recently released footage of the incident showed retired fire lieutenant Dwain Williams walking to his car where he was ambushed by three armed carjackers. A shootout ensued and the carjackers fled in another stolen vehicle. A number of community activists have since come together to offer a reward for information on the case, which now totals $30 thousand.

In 2020, the number of carjackings doubled over the previous year. Although the problem is getting worse, police said additional resources are on the way.

“Our approach to the spike in carjackings is more than simply adding more officers,” Deenihan stated. “We’re working closely with our county federal prosecutors to build the best possible cases for prosecution. The juvenile justice system is also involved in this entire process. Our youth and intervention officers are also keyed into this problem, their task is reaching out to those who live in areas with greatest concentration of carjackings.”

In the meantime, the chief recommended locking car doors at all times, leaving space in between cars when at a stoplight, and to not get out of the car if rear-ended by potential offenders. Instead, Deenihan advised driving to the nearest police station. The chief said the goal is to “survive the encounter.”

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