The Chicago Police Department released its monthly statistics for July on Monday, touting more than 800 carjacking arrests so far this year – but that figure appears to conflict with the city’s own crime data.
CPD’s monthly stats said the department and the “Vehicular Hijacking Task Force” have made 808 motor vehicle-related arrests since Jan. 1. That figure was released exactly one week after CPD spokesman Tom Ahern tweeted that 772 carjacking offenders had been arrested since January, later clarifying that those arrests were for vehicular hijackings as well as possession of a stolen motor vehicle or criminal trespass to a vehicle.
Supt. David Brown on Monday underscored that classification, saying carjacking is “not a legal terminology for the crimes that are occurring,” but rather an umbrella term for those three types of crimes.
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“So there’s vehicular hijacking, is a state law violation. Then there’s motor vehicle theft, that’s stealing the car. And then there’s criminal trespass to vehicle, that’s being in possession of a stolen car whether you’re a passenger or a driver and we catch you and we charge you with any of those three crimes,” Brown said. “We aggregate those crimes because we believe all of the crews associated with ought to be charged and held accountable.”
“Carjacking really is vehicular hijacking, but it’s also possession of a stolen car or actually stealing the car, whether you carjacked it or not,” he continued. “We think all of those are the same and we try as best we can to explain that to the public.”
From CPD’s website that lists arrests, NBC 5 Investigates pulled every arrest this year for any incident involving a vehicle under those three types of crimes, and found 620 – nearly 200 fewer than what CPD claims.
Looking at vehicular hijackings alone, the city’s own crime data shows that from Jan. 1 through July 24, Chicago saw 942 of those crimes, an average of more than four a day. Just 57 of those cases have resulted in an arrest, according to city data.
On the other charges, the data shows 310 cases of criminal trespass to a vehicle so far this year, with just 47 arrests. And of the 7,567 cases of motor vehicle thefts this year, Chicago police have made arrests in 176 of those incidents, according to the city’s own figures.
For all three crimes the department says it groups together as carjacking arrests, that’s a clearance rate of just 3.1% for incidents that have occurred so far this year.
Brown said Chicago police have fewer helicopters than other departments across the nation: just three, which he said hinders CPD’s ability to catch carjackers.
He claimed that the New York Police Department has 18 helicopters. NBC 5 Investigates checked that figure as well, and the NYPD said it has just seven.