By Christopher Hacker
CHICAGO (CBS) — Carjackings in Chicago fell over the last few weeks, amid a continued surge in vehicular hijackings across Chicago that has many residents on edge, according to Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent David Brown.
The city saw a 35 percent drop in reports of carjackings between February 1 and February 17, compared to the previous 17-day period, Brown said in a tweet Thursday.
Within the first 50 days of 2021, our detectives & officers have arrested 210 offenders for vehicle-related crimes, including vehicular hijacking, possession of stolen vehicle & criminal trespass to vehicle. We are working hard to restore safety for our city's drivers. pic.twitter.com/iJXm2dufLd
— Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown (@ChiefDavidBrown) February 18, 2021
The recent drop comes as an unprecedented wave of carjackings continues to sweep the city. Chicago saw more than 250 carjackings in the first six weeks of 2021, compared to less than 100 during the same period in 2020, according to data analyzed by CBS 2.
After a significant spike in January, the number of new carjackings each week has leveled off at around 30 — still higher than it was last year.
Many of the carjackings have been concentrated around the West Side, with the West Town community area the hardest hit this year.
In his tweet, Brown cited more than 200 people arrested for “vehicle-related crimes” so far this year as part of what drove the recent downtick. Those arrests included other crimes besides vehicular hijacking — the formal name for carjacking — including criminal trespass to vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle.
96 of the 210 arrests Brown cited were for criminal trespass to vehicles, 67 were for possession of a stolen vehicle, while only 47 were for vehicular hijacking, a CPD spokesperson told CBS 2.
While not specifically for carjackings, a CPD spokesperson told CBS 2 those “vehicle-related crimes” help officers fight the city’s carjacking epidemic. Offenders who aren’t caught in the act of carjacking are often arrested while possessing a previously carjacked vehicle, while others are caught entering a vehicle that isn’t theirs.
Another factor that could help explain the recent drop: the recent snowfall that’s hit Chicago. Some areas saw as many at 18 inches over the last few days.
While acknowledging the snow could partly explain the decrease, the spokesperson pointed to recent arrests made by the department’s carjacking task force as partially responsible for the improvement.
CBS 2 has filed a public records request information about that team to determine how many carjacking incidents they’ve helped solve.