CHICAGO (CBS) — A carjacking spree that has been going on for weeks has turned more dangerous, with the latest incident having happened in broad daylight at one of the city’s busiest and most iconic six-way intersections.
As CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reported, the latest incident happened right at Milwaukee, Damen, and North avenues in Wicker Park.
“It’s quite busy,” said Max Rivers. “I would say this is one of the more hectic intersections of the city.”
The traffic at the busy Wicker Park junction on Saturday included Chicago Police squads.
A 38-year-old man was stopped at a red light in the 2000 block of West North Avenue at 8:04 a.m. in his black 2019 Audi A5 four-door sedan when two men got out and stepped in front of him.
The men, who both had guns, demanded the victim’s vehicle. He got out and let them have the car, police said.
The suspects fled northwest on Milwaukee Avenue in the victims’ car, followed by a Jeep, police said.
“I am kind of surprised that that happened,” said Rivers, who worked nearby.
In this incident, police said the driver was left unharmed. We cannot say the same for other victims.
Earlier this week, CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar met Luv Randhawa, who was the victim of an attempted carjacking right in the middle of the Loop.
“I am injured from my leg and my chest,” Randhawa said. “They put the gun on my chest and they were hitting it. There were four or five people.”
Randhawa, from Las Vegas, was in the driver’s seat of his car when he parked with his buddy and popped into a Starbucks for a cup of coffee near State and Lake streets on Monday evening. Within just seconds, a group of teens went in with guns and attacked the man.
“They were trying to take this car,” Randhawa said Monday. “This car is rental.”
Randhawa fought off a group of teens who not only tried taking his rental car, but also his life.
“He pulled the trigger out. Something pops out,” Randhawa said. “The bullet pops out, so the gun got latched.”
Also this week, a red four-door Audi was stolen at gunpoint in the 1400 block of West Wolfram Street in the southwest corner of Lakeview. It is believed to be part of a series of carjackings.
While the woman in the Lakeview incident was safe, there was another attempted in a carjacking hours later early Tuesday morning in Bucktown. And it happened that the suspects pulled up in a red Audi just like the one that was stolen on Wolfram Street.
Two men jumped out of the Audi and tried to steal a Porsche as a mother and daughter pulled into their driveway. When the husband walked out, they shot him and jumped back in the same red Audi.
Add these to the other carjackings last weekend, many of them on the North or Near Northwest sides. In one of them – also in the Wicker Park-Bucktown area – a woman reversed and got out of the way of the gunmen in the nick of time.
And now, this latest incident in broad daylight in Wicker Park has joined the list.
“I’ve heard there’s been a rise in carjackings in the city recently,” Rivers said.
The CBS 2 Investigators have been tracking the alarming trend.
In 2019, Chicago saw a total of 516 carjackings, and with December still ahead of us, 2020 as of last week had already seen 1,145 cases and growing. That amounts to a spike of 120 percent.
“That’s pretty intense. That’s a pretty dramatic increase, yeah,” Rivers said. “I would say that it’s probably not a direct result of the pandemic, but I think that there’s some greater forces at play. People are in dire financial straits and need, I guess they would need to commit more crimes if they’re in that situation.”
Numerous sections of the city have been hit hard.
The area that has seen the biggest jump in carjackings over the past two years is the Deering (9th) District – which includes Chinatown, Armour Square, Bridgeport, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, Fuller Park, McKinley Park, and Brighton Park.
So far this year, there have been 85 carjackings in that area.
The area with the most carjackings in the entire city of Chicago this year is the Harrison (11th) on the city’s West Side, which includes Humboldt Park, West Humboldt Park, East and West Garfield Park, and parts of North Lawndale.
Eleven months in, there’s been 141 carjackings reported this year in the district.
The Chicago Police Department formed a carjacking task force in 2018. Because the task force was successful, the CPD ended it, but this year, they brought it back.
The task force was reassembled in February as carjackings spiked.
Currently, the task force is part of the team working with local businesses get a network together utilizing their security cameras for faster access by authorities – particularly car dealerships near highway exit ramps.
In the latest carjacking in Wicker Park, there was no one in custody late Saturday. Police did not have a useful description.
On Saturday night, a Chicago Police district issued a tweet reminding people to be mindful in particular when picking up or delivering food for businesses or customers and to take their keys with them in the process.
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