By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 19-year-old man has been charged with carjacking a driver in the parking lot of a Jewel-Osco store in Wicker Park last week, just five days after he was released on previous misdemeanor charges.

Chicago Police said Quitone Nash, of Markham, was arrested early Friday morning, after officers spotted him at a gas station in Englewood, driving the same vehicle that had been stolen in the carjacking in Wicker Park just hours earlier in the parking lot of a Jewel-Osco store at the corner of Milwaukee and Paulina.

Nash has been charged with one felony count of vehicular hijacking. According to court records, a Cook County judge ordered Nash held on $200,000 bail during a bond hearing on Saturday. The judge also set bail at $40,000 for violating the conditions of his bond in a previous case in which he was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle, driving without a license, and driving without insurance.

Police said Nash and two other men pulled a 41-year-old man out of his Buick in the parking lot of the Jewel-Osco store in Wicker Park around 2 a.m. Friday, beat him, and drove off in his car. Officers later spotted Nash in the stolen car at a gas station at 71st and Halsted around 4:45 a.m. Friday, and arrested him at the scene.

Police said there is no known connection between the carjacking in the Jewel parking lot and a string of other recent carjackings in Lakeview and Bucktown, or another carjacking one day later a couple blocks away in Wicker Park.

Shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday, a 38-year-old man was stopped at a red light in his black 2019 Audi A5 sedan at the six-way intersection of Damen, Milwaukee, and North avenues, when two men stopped in front of him, got out of their vehicle, and demanded his car at gunpoint. 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.

In that incident, police said the driver was left unharmed. We cannot say the same for other victims of recent carjackings in Chicago.

Earlier last week 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.”

The suspects in that case were caught a short time later.

Also last week, a red four-door Audi was stolen at gunpoint in the 1400 block of West Wolfram Street. It is believed to be part of a series of carjackings in Lakeview and Bucktown.

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 the weekend before Thanksgiving, 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.

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 late November had already seen 1,145 cases and growing. That amounts to a spike of 120%.

“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.

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.

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.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff