After a string of highly-publicized carjackings in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson are lobbying Illinois officials to crack down on offenders.
“Unless the victim can positively identify the offender or if the officer can prove the driver knows they’re in a stolen vehicle, many times they get a slap on the wrist and are back on the street far too soon,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Emanuel cited a legal loophole in state law that is often exploited in such cases, and they hope the law will be changed to help keep offenders behind bars.
Recently, a retired police officer pinned a would-be car thief to the ground after an attempted carjacking in Streeterville. Just days later, he was back on the street.
“We can only do so much as law enforcement,” Johnson said. “We need our judicial partners to step up to the plate and hold these people accountable.”
To help judges, Johnson and Emanuel are teaming up with a group of lawmakers to push a new law that would remove the requirement that a person in possession of a stolen vehicle has to know that it is stolen, something often tricky to prove in car theft cases.
“We are introducing legislation to close the loophole (and) will strengthen and empower victims so they can have a say in their safety and security,” Emanuel said.
Many victims, including an 80-year-old grandmother who was carjacked while checking the tires on her car, are hopeful that something can be done to stem the tide of carjackings in the city.
“I think I speak for everyone in saying we are sick of it,” she said.