CHICAGO (CBS) — The carjacking crisis in Chicago continues, with a record-breaking rise in the crime.

From the beginning, CBS 2’s Tara Molina has tracked the case of a woman who was carjacked in Bucktown. She has been monitoring how the cases proceed, following a meeting in the neighborhood Tuesday night.

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The victim of the Bucktown carjacking in question told Molina Wednesday that she is not happy with the latest development – to say the least. She was surrounded by three young men in the attack, and the one suspect who was brought in and charged in connection to her case was just let off electronic monitoring – despite the Cook County State’s Attorney asking otherwise.

“It’s really frightening,” said the woman, Mar. “I don’t feel safe.”

Indeed she does not. Standing in her Bucktown neighborhood just shy of two months after she was surrounded at gunpoint in her garage in the middle of a sunny afternoon, Mar – still only comfortable using her first name – told CBS 2’s Molina she is scared and disappointed.

“There’s the whole crew that was not caught,” Mar said.

One teenager, a 15-year-old, was arrested and charged in connection to her case. He was found driving her stolen car just over 24 hours after she was carjacked.

The person with the 15-year-old when he was arrested ran away.

The 15-year-old stands charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He is with family now, but he is no longer on electronic monitoring despite the States Attorney’s office’s ask.

“This thief who was caught in my stolen car, which was then destroyed, is now completely free – completely free, until the next status hearing,” Mar said. “It’s just incredibly upsetting.”

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With the spike in crime, we wanted to know how standard that is. Molina asked the State’s Attorney’s office – which, again, recommended that teen stay on monitoring. They got back to Molina with this statement:

“Public safety is the top priority of this office, and we will continue to hold those accountable for driving the violence in our communities when police make an arrest and charges are approved. The CCSAO remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to address violence and crime and will continue to prosecute criminal cases based on the law and the evidence as we strive to increase safety in our communities.”

Meanwhile, people in Bucktown are looking for more action against carjackings. There was a big turnout Tuesday evening at a community meeting on carjackings – and the rising numbers back up their frustration.

There have been 34 carjackings in Bucktown and Wicker Park this year, compared to 15 during the same timeframe in 2020.

“Everyone in the community feels like there is not enough police presence,” Mar said.

In the meeting Tuesday night, police said they have upped patrols here because of the spike.
But Mar says no one on her street has seen that yet.

There is another hearing on the case we’ve been tracking at the end of next month, so we will continue to watch this closely.

Meanwhile, the State’s Attorney’s office reported that throughout the month of August, its prosecutors reviewed and made charging decisions for 10 adult felony vehicular carjacking cases in Cook County. Charges were approved in eight of the cases.

The State’s Attorney’s office also filed charges in 19 juvenile vehicular hijacking cases in Cook County in August.

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The following is series of questions from CBS 2’s Molina and answers from State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton about the juvenile suspect in Mar’s case and his release on electronic monitoring:

Q: Chicago Police and city leaders continue to point to the legal system, and specifically the States Attorney’s office, when it comes to the cyclical nature of these crimes and repeat offenders or offenders with records. Does the office have a response to that?

A: Upon the setting of the initial bond, the prosecutor’s presentation includes a proffer of the facts of the case and the entire criminal history of the arrestee. The judge then makes the determination whether to set bail or detain in custody pre-trial. Please note that the Juvenile Court Act determines what, if any, juvenile criminal history may be offered by the prosecutors and considered by the judge. As it relates to an offender who is on probation or in violation of bond for an arrest on a new case, prosecutors will file a petition to violate that probation or bail and the judge then decides to set bail or detain.

Q: With the suspect in the Bucktown case, the States Attorney’s office asked for him to remain on EM, but that ask was denied, does that happen often?

A: While the court makes the final determination regarding custody status of minors, including release on electronic monitoring, the SAO will provide a recommendation based on the facts and evidence when appropriate to do so on a case-by-case basis. We do not track this information; however, the Juvenile Presiding Judge’s Office and/or Juvenile Probation (which monitors youth on electronic monitoring) should be able to provide relevant answers to questions such as how many youths are on electronic monitoring, the offenses with which they are charged, and the duration of the electronic monitoring order.

Tara Molina