By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — A spike in the number of carjackings so far this year is leaving residents rattled, and prompting Chicago Police to re-convene a special taskforce to try to stop it.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports, the 18th district had three carjacking or attempted carjacking incidents since early Thursday morning. Investigators do not believe these three incidents are connected, but the offenders in each case had guns. They all happened within blocks of each other on the city’s Near North Side.

There have been 117 reported carjackings since the beginning of 2020, which is up dramatically from 67 carjackings during the same period last year. The numbers were just as bad two years ago.

In February 2018 a carjacking task force was created and the numbers dipped to a low point of 31 carjackings citywide in March of 2019.

So we wanted to know: Where was the follow through?

“So last year we had record lows in carjackings that we hadn’t seen in years so those resources were diverted to something else,” said First Deputy Police Superintendent Anthony Riccio.

CPD says now they will reconvene the task force and also add additional officers, covert officers, dedicated state and federal prosecutors, and deploy the helicopter unit to keep an eye on problem areas. CPD says they will be pursuing federal conspiracy charges when they can against suspects.

“A lot of times we find federal prosecution is much stiffer,” said Riccio. “It’s much swifter and it’s a deterrent but it also puts bad guys away for a long time

Another reason why police are working with the U.S. attorney’s office: Offenders who are convicted federally have to serve 85 percent of their sentence. Offenders in the state system often serve just half of their sentence with good behavior credits.

Megan Hickey