CHICAGO (CBS) — A mother was terrorized when a carjacker took off with her car – and two her kids – at a South Shore gas station. Surveillance video caught the crime on video.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves spoke with the victim and her family; thankfully, everyone is safe.READ MORE: DCFS Head Could Be Held In Contempt For Not Answering Questions About Kids Stuck In Psychiatric Facilities
We have reported before about gas stations being vulnerable place for carjackings, and video shows just how quickly it can happen.
It took less than 30 seconds at the Amstar gas station at 75th and Yates. A carjacker jumped out the back door of a grey SUV, calmly walked around a gas pump to the driver’s side of a black Chevy Malibu, and hopped inside, unaware that a 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl were in the back seat.
At the time their mother was inside the convenience store getting juice for her children, and had left the car running.
“My daughter’s traumatized, and my grandkids … they are traumatized,” said Jacqueline Owens, the children’s grandmother.
The carjacker cruised off with the kids inside.
“They were sleeping, and when they woke up, there was someone else driving,” Owens said.
The thief got about a mile before abandoning the car.
The children’s father found it and drove the kids back to the gas station to reunite everyone; a joyful but painful moment, especially for a grandmother who knows things could have been worse.
“My babies are destroyed from this,” Owens said. “Ugh. The words … I cannot explain it. I cannot explain it.”READ MORE: Mexican Independence Day Celebrations Could Bring More Gridlock Downtown: 'The City's Got Some Work To Do To'
“We need to change something. This is too much,” she added.
The incident comes as Chicago battles a carjacking crisis.
It’s gotten so bad that community groups have volunteered to stand guard at gas stations.
There’s been an uptick in arrests in recent weeks.
On Thursday, Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said of the 325 carjacking reports made so far this year, his detectives have made 62 arrests. It’s an uptick from years past. Carjacking arrests have been historically elusive.
Deenihan credited the surge in arrests to an influx of officers working on cases more than ever before, treating them with as much attention to detail as a homicide.
Now another suspect is on their list.
“Find you a job. Find you something to do. Stop stealing from other people. And you’re harming children,” Owens said.
Chicago police reminded people to stay vigilant, and never leave vehicles unlocked – or kids unattended.MORE NEWS: 'Get Vaccinated': McHenry Co. Husband Of Mother In COVID-Related Coma After Giving Birth
The suspect in this case still on the loose.