A construction worker resting in his personal vehicle near a job site early Tuesday morning at Walton and State experienced what he calls the “scariest” moment of his life when he said a hooded man pointed a gun at him and stole his Honda Civic.
“You don’t expect things like that to happen when you’re in your own vehicle,” said Steve, who asked for his identity to be concealed.
Steve was preparing for his shift as an iron worker at a Near North Side building project when he became one of the latest victims of a crime that is soaring in Chicago: carjacking.
NBC 5 Investigates examined all reports of carjackings in the city and found 898 incidents have occurred in 2017. That’s up from 663 in 2016 and 339 in 2015. The incident impacting Steve happened in police district 18, which experienced a near three-fold increase in carjackings between 2016 and 2017.
“A lot of it is gang-related, so we know that they use these vehicles to commit smash and grabs, we know they use them to commit drive-by shootings and we also know that they do it sometimes just for the thrill of doing it,” said Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Johnson said juveniles are often being directed by adults to steal the cars. Still, Johnson said arrests are increasing as the number of carjackings increase.
“I think that one of the ways we’ll attack it is to hold the older people accountable for when they have these younger guys go out and steal these cars for them,” Johnson said.
Johnson is urging the public to be aware of their surroundings and to not exit their vehicles with the keys still in the ignition.
Steve said his Honda Civic was found the next day, thanks in part to smartphone and iPad location features left “on” while the suspects apparently took his car for a joy ride.
A spokesperson for Chicago police said the case is still under investigation and no offenders are in custody.