By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Three teenagers have been charged with carjacking a delivery driver Thursday night in the South Austin neighborhood.

Police said a 33-year-old man was making a delivery around 10 p.m. on the 100 block of North Lamon Avenue, when three teens pointed guns at him, and stole his vehicle and personal belongings.

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Officers recovered his abandoned vehicle a few blocks away, and tracked down all three carjackers in less than an hour.

Police said one carjacker was found shortly before 10:30 p.m. a couple blocks away on the 100 block of North LaCrosse Avenue. The other two were found around 10:50 p.m. on the 200 block of North LaCrosse Avenue.

All three carjackers – two 15-year-old boys and a 17-year-old boy – have been charged with felony aggravated vehicular hijacking, and were due to appear in Juvenile Court on Friday.

Chicago has seen a troubling spike in carjackings in the past year. Carjackings more than doubled last year, from about 600 in 2019 to more than 1,400 in 2020, or nearly four per day. The surge has only intensified this year, with more than 150 carjackings in January, or about five per day.

The CBS 2 Investigators have learned the majority of the arrests have involved juveniles.

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As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, there is a renewed push for stiffer penalties for those caught. Some have questioned whether the penalties for juvenile offenders are doing enough to solve the problem.

Last week, U.S. Attorney John Lausch and FBI Chicago Special-Agent-in-Charge Emmerson Buie said if someone gets caught carjacking, they are going to be pushing harder than ever to make it a federal case. However, it’s extremely rare for federal prosecutors to bring charges against juveniles.

“I can’t think of any juvenile cases that we’ve charged since I’ve been the U.S. Attorney, and in fact, I can’t think of any in recent memory, even before my time,” Lausch told Hickey.

As to why more cases are not charged federally, a lot of cases involve other crimes that would actually result in stiffer penalties in state court. If someone died during the carjacking, for example, the case would be handled in state court.

Other carjacking-related cases might end up being charged as a robbery or a firearms case.

An interactive map at this link shows the change in the number of carjackings in Chicago neighborhoods between 2019 and 2020.

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