CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police are investigating a rash of carjackings overnight, and investigators think they might be linked to a recent crime spree that started with a carjacking in west suburban Cicero.
Between 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., Chicago police responded to three reports of armed suspects stealing cars. In each case, the victims said three men approached them and stole their car at gunpoint:
• Around 2:30 a.m., three men approached two men and a woman near Wellington and Elston avenues in the Avondale neighborhood, and stole a Toyota Camry, after failing to steal a Lexus.
• Around 3 a.m., three men stole a car at gunpoint near Kinzie and Aberdeen in the West Town neighborhood.
• Around 4:30 a.m., three men approached a man near Augusta and Wolcott in the West Town neighborhood, and stole his Dodge Charger at gunpoint.
In the carjacking on Wellington, a burgundy sedan blocked in the owner of a Lexus, and forced the two men onto the ground.
One of the victims said the robbers threatened to shoot him in the head. When they couldn’t figure out how to drive the Lexus, they stole his friend’s Toyota.
When that victim yelled that he had called police, one of the gunmen fired a shot at them.
“They’re ready to kill somebody. They’re not playing,” he said.
Chicago police are also investigating whether an armed robbery near Leavitt and Potomac around 2:30 a.m. was linked to the carjackings. That incident also involved three men robbing a victim at gunpoint, although no vehicle was stolen.
“We believe it is the same group of individuals committing these offenses, and using the cars that they’ve taken from people to commit subsequent robberies,” CPD Chief of Patrol Fred Waller said.
Meantime, police in Cicero and Berwyn also were investigating a string of carjackings and robberies overnight.
Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania said the crime spree started around 1:30 a.m., when four men wearing surgical masks stole a car at 21st Street and 58th Court, and then fled into Berwyn and Chicago, where they committed other crimes.
The suspects might be the same ones responsible for stealing the Dodge Charger at Augusta and Wolcott in Chicago.
Hanania said the four suspects from the Cicero carjacking also tried to carjack another vehicle around 5 a.m. near 15th Street and 61st Avenue in Cicero. A few minutes later, they robbed a woman of her cell phone less than half a mile away in the 1800 block of South 61st Avenue.
Around 5:20 a.m., they robbed a woman of her purse at gunpoint near 23rd Street and 58th Court, police said.
Less than ten minutes later, they robbed a man of his wallet and car keys at gunpoint near 26th Street and 59th Avenue.
A short time after that, they robbed a man and woman at gunpoint near 27th Street and 59th Avenue, stealing their wallets, cell phones, and purse.
WATCH: How to Avoid Being Carjacked:
Police have said part of the problem is many of the suspects are juveniles who know they won’t face serious punishment.
For example, two adults and two juveniles were arrested in Chicago for carjackings this weekend, and the charges against the juveniles were reduced to misdemeanors.
Police also said carjackings often can result in copycat crimes, when suspects tell others how easy it is to commit the crime.
Waller said the best advice if you find yourself the victim of a carjacking is to just give the robbers your car.