CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police announced Wednesday that they made dozen arrests in a joint operation with other law enforcement agencies to combat carjackings this past weekend, and have also launched a new website with information about that category of crime.
At a news conference, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said between schools being out and courts being closed such that trials and convictions are not taking place, carjackers are operating without any consequences.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Not As Cold Thursday Night
“The cops are not the judge, juror, or jailer” and can only make initial arrests, Brown said.
The new website launched by the CPD features informational releases and booking photos connected with carjackings, as well as prevention tips in multiple languages and a place to submit tips.
But as CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, many of the offenders are often too young to even have their identity released- showing instead no name and a silhouette.
Brown said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that 323 people have been arrested on charges related to carjackings in connection with 368 total offenses the 10 weeks that have transpired since the beginning of the year, and 44 percent of those arrested have been juveniles.
Chicago Police have been working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s police, and other law enforcement agencies to fight the carjacking epidemic.
This past Saturday night, the joint operation was credited with the arrest of two 15-year-olds and 13-year-old after police said they carjacked a rideshare driver on 95th Street just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway. The carjackers went on to joyride around the South and West sides at dangerously high speeds, before they were finally apprehended in Merrillville, Indiana, Brown said.
The defendants have been released to their parents with the possibility of additional charges, Brown said.
The task force succeeded in finding the three youngsters in large part because officers in a helicopter spotted them driving erratically, Brown said.
Given how many young people have been arrested in connection with carjackings, Brown emphasized the need for guidance and mentorship for young people – whether it be family members, teachers, coaches, pastors, or friends.
“Our young people are not experiencing social norms,” Brown said. “We all need to help our young people make better choices and we need mentors to show them the way.”READ MORE: Attorney: Explosion Killing 3 Near Starved Rock May Be Linked To Demo Work
But that is not enough unto itself, Brown said.
“For those that do offend, we need real consequences,” Brown said. “The Uber driver will never forget what happened on Saturday night. That sort of trauma stays with the person.”
The rideshare driver who was carjacked on Saturday spoke at the news conference, describing having a gun held to his head twice for his car and then for his phone.
“I just felt something on my head,” the victim said. “I look this way. I saw it was a gun.”
The man did not want to give his name. But he said the trauma still follows him.
Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said an anti-carjacking operation conducted by the joint law enforcement partners over the weekend netted 10 felony and two misdemeanor arrests. There were also 10 stolen vehicles and three hijacked vehicles recovered, and two guns recovered – one with a switch to render it automatic.
“We will be doing this from here on out, so the public can expect to see a lot more resources on this specific issue,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference.
Brown said multiple times that one of the greatest problems since the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago is that the justice system has crawled to near-halt with courts largely closed. Without criminal trials, there have been no convictions and no consequences for those who commit crimes, and so people have been committing crimes with impunity, Brown said.
The number one motive lately in carjackings has been joyriding, Brown added.
“It’s a shame that you would hold a gun to someone’s head to joyride,” he said.
As of Tuesday night, of the 434 cleared carjacking cases by CPD, less than half were closed. That means police are still looking for people in the remaining 240 cases.MORE NEWS: Small Plane Lands On I-355 At 159th Street In New Lenox; Pilot, 3 Passengers Suffer Injuries
Police said they have reached out to the Chicago Public Schools for help both mentoring and for help identifying juveniles — possibly students — tied to carjackings.