Police are investigating a surge in carjackings on the city’s Northwest and West Sides early Monday morning after multiple vehicles were taken from drivers at gunpoint within minutes of each other.
The first overnight carjacking was reported in the 2500 block of West Wellington, in the city’s Avondale neighborhood.
There, a 39-year-old man, a 51-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman were sitting in a black 2017 Toyota Camry when they were approached by three armed men and ordered out of their vehicle, police said.
The armed men took personal belongings from the victims before fleeing the scene in their Camry.
No injuries were reported in the incident and Area North detectives were investigating.
Around the same time, three men exited a red sedan and robbed a woman at gunpoint in the 1300 block of North Leavitt, taking her purse, backpack and other items, police said. It was not immediately clear if the robbery was related to the carjacking, however.
Police initially said a second carjacking happened about 20 minutes later about two blocks away in the 2900 block of North Elston, but later said that incident was actually the same as the carjacking on Wellington.
Just before 3 a.m., three men walked up to another man in the 400 block of North Aberdeen and took his black sedan at gunpoint, authorities said.
“All three of them jump out with guns, two of them driver's side, one on the passenger, told me to get out the car or dead,” said victim Steve Thomas. “When I look at guns, you can have this damn car.”
No one was reported hurt in the carjacking and Area Central detectives are investigating.
About an hour and a half after that, police said three men stole a white Dodge Charger at gunpoint in the 1900 block of West Augusta. Police said all three men were armed with hand guns at the time of the carjacking.
Authorities believe that carjacking may be related to a crime spree that stretched through multiple suburbs.
A spokesman for Cicero, Ray Hanania, said a group of four armed suspects wearing surgical masks attempted to carjack a vehicle just before 1:30 a.m. in the area of 21st Street and 58th Court. The suspects fled into Berwyn and then Chicago, committing various crimes along the way, Hanania said.
They had been driving a four-wheel drive maroon vehicle before they are believed to have carjacked the white Dodge charger with a stripe across the top during the early morning hours Monday, according to Hanania.
At 5 a.m., they attempted a third carjacking in the 1400 block of South 61st Avenue in Cicero, he said. Minutes later, they began robbing as many as three people throughout the area.
Police departments in Berwyn and Cicero said they were working with Chicago police to investigate the crimes.
CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said authorities believe the overnight carjacking incidents in Chicago are connected to each other.
Chief of Police Fred Waller said the group of carjackers could be connected to others in the area recently as well.
"They've probably done this before," he said.
Waller called the carjackings "crimes of opportunity," adding that in some cases the cars are being used to carjack another victim or commit other crimes, such as robberies.
"Be smart, lock your car doors, be aware of your surroundings," he said.
On Sunday afternoon, a woman and her two children were carjacked while sitting in their vehicle outside a suburban Walgreens. The family was taken to the Northwest Side of Chicago, where they and the vehicle were left and the carjacker fled the scene.
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.