A carjacking Monday night turned into a police chase that ended with a crash and two people in custody just hours after police warned of a surge in vehicular hijackings in the area.
Police believe the suspects are connected to the rash of carjackings that spread across Chicago's Northwest and West Sides over the weekend and into Monday morning.
The latest carjacking took place around the intersection of Chicago and Racine Avenues near the city's West Town neighborhood, where two men took a white Jeep Cherokee.
Soon after, officers spotted the stolen vehicle and the suspects led them on a chase through the city's West Side and onto the Eisenhower Expressway.
The chase resulted in a three-car crash just before Harlem Avenue. No injuries were reported in the crash but police say the thieves tried to run away on foot before they were caught in nearby Oak Park.
Authorities said a gun was recovered from the scene and charges were pending Tuesday morning.
Police began warning residents on the Near West Side after a recent string of 12 vehicular hijackings and robberies over a two-day span.
In those incidents, two to three men approached victims on the street or inside their vehicles and have either stolen their cars or belongings from inside, according to a community alert from Chicago Police.
The incidents happened:
• At 4:17 p.m. Sunday in the 200 block of North Justine Street;
• At 9:26 p.m. Sunday in the 2200 block of West Walnut Street;
• At 9:57 p.m. Sunday in the 700 block of North Wood Street;
• At 10:20 p.m. Sunday in the 1200 block of West Flournoy Street;
• At 12:09 a.m. Monday in the 300 block of South Paulina Street;
• At 2:30 a.m. Monday in the 1300 block of North Leavitt Street;
• At 2:35 a.m. Monday in the 2500 block of West Wellington;
• At 3:02 p.m. Monday in the 400 block of North Aberdeen Street;
• At 4:03 a.m. Monday in the 1500 block of North Artesian Avenue;
• At 3:30 a.m. Monday in the 3600 block of North Hamlin Avenue;
• At 4:08 a.m. Monday in the 1400 block of North Maplewood Avenue; and
• At 4:24 a.m. Monday in the 1900 block of West Augusta Boulevard.
Authorities said they believed the incidents were related and could be connected to even more carjackings that took place in recent weeks.
The offenders were described as two to three black men between 5-foot-6 and 6-foot-1, 150 to 170 pounds with medium to dark complexions, police said. One man is between 18 and 20 years old and the other 30 to 35.
Both men were masked, police said.
Chief of Police Fred Waller said that in many cases the stolen vehicles are being used to carjack more victims or to commit other crimes such as robberies.
"Be smart, lock your car doors, be aware of your surroundings," he said.
Last week, police warned of a string of carjackings on the city’s South Side, in the Gresham and Brainerd neighborhoods.
In total, there have been more than 700 carjackings in Chicago so far this year, authorities said. Though, they add, arrests are up 50 percent.
Anyone with information on the latest string of carjackings should contact Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8382 or Area North detectives at (312) 744-8263.