By Megan Hickey
CHICAGO (CBS) — This past weekend saw another rash of violent carjackings across the city – and that came after 2020 saw a jump of more than 135 percent in the number of carjackings compared to the year before.
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey continues to push for answers about the carjacking epidemic. On Monday, the most important question was – why?
It was on the residential 2100 block of West Charleston Street in Bucktown that an Uber driver was robbed at gunpoint Saturday night. Police said the carjackers took off with his 2016 Mercedes.
The Charleston Street incident was one of at least four confirmed carjackings in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area over the weekend, and residents said the city simply can’t allow the problem to get any worse.
Bucktown Community Organization President Steve Jensen said that while carjackings have been on the rise over the past year, “the level of frustration is something I’ve never seen before. It was bad, but now it’s worse than bad.”
While the area’s aldermen have taken heat on social media, Jensen believes they’re working hard and the ire is misdirected.
Jensen: “There are no consequences to putting a gun in someone’s ear, stealing a car, and joyriding around for three hours.”
Hickey: “Or at least not severe enough, in your opinion.”
Jensen: “Not severe enough at all, unfortunately – and that’s what’s going to have to change.”
By the numbers, Bucktown and Wicker Park aren’t even the hardest hit when it comes to carjackings. Bridgeport and Albany Park have seen the largest year over year jumps, while East and West Garfield Park saw the highest number of carjackings in 2020 – with 117 compared to just 53 in 2019.
The U.S. Department of Justice does have the ability to charge some cases federally and announced the expansion of local/federal partnership in July.
But on Monday, the Northern District was unable to give us hard numbers for cases they’ve charged so far due to the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
But it’s something the City Council’s Public Safety Committee will be discussing on Friday – where they’ve asked representatives from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and Cook County Circuit Court to appear and answer these important questions.
Aggravated carjackings are punishable by up to six to 30 years in prison in the State of Illinois, but there is currently a high bar for prosecutors to prove it.
Carjackings By Neighborhood, 2020 v. 2019
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