As carjacking crimes increase throughout the Chicago area, police provided tips on the best practices to avoid becoming a victim.
In a press conference Thursday, Chicago police advised that people be aware of their surroundings when traveling around the city. Police Supt. David Brown said traveling with another individual in the passenger seat is best, when possible.
"One of the tips that we try to give victims is to be aware of your surroundings," Brown said. "Try as much as possible when you are going from a store, from your car and back to your car to look around to see if you see any suspicious activity. If you see something suspicious, this is where you got to call 911 and say there was a suspicious car behind my car, instead of walking up and having an armed confrontation."
Brown added that the groups of carjackers tend to travel in pairs or fours, and are typically canvassing individuals for an opportunity to arise. The police superintendent said offenders are typically also traveling in cars.
He noted that some carjackings have made their way to Chicago suburbs, so CPD is making the effort to reduce the crimes a regional collaboration. Police believe the offenders are in Chicago, travel to the suburbs, then back to the city.
On Thursday, Brown announced steps the department was taking to address the recent spike in carjackings. Carjackings in 2020 doubled in Chicago compared to the previous year, and so far in 2021 there have been at least 144 reported, officials said.
Brown and Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the department will add more detectives to find the individuals committing the citywide carjackings and bring them to the Cook County state's attorney's office for prosecution.
Brown said, on average, the city's carjacking crimes are committed by individuals between the ages of 15 and 20, with one offender as young as 12. He called on others working with the city's young people to contribute to the effort, saying it takes more than simply law enforcement to curb the problem.
"Law enforcement cannot do this alone. We need everyone -- teachers, mentors coaches parents, the faith community and others -- to help us," Brown said.
Deenihan said that the additional resources CPD has added in 2021 will allow for a carjacking-specific team to operate in each detective division area citywide. He said the department must work with neighborhoods personally to solve the issue.
"We need to work directly with the young people to provide opportunities and dissuade them from contributing to this problem," Deenihan said.
At least four carjackings were reported in Chicago on Thursday night, just hours after police vowed a crackdown amid a concerning spike in incidents of the crime.
Three people in their 50s were carjacked in separate incidents, including one who was beaten with a pipe, according to police.
At around 6:35 p.m., two armed carjackers confronted a 55-year-old driver stopped at a red light in the 400 block of North Cicero Avenue in Austin, police said.
The duo — armed with a gun and a short pipe — told the man to exit his Acura MDX, police said. As he complied, the male with the pipe hit him several times. The carjackers left in the man’s car. The injured man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital for treatment.
Less than two hours later, a 51-year-old woman was carjacked at gunpoint in Kenwood on the South Side.
She was sitting in her gray BMW Sedan about 8:10 p.m. in the 4500 block of South Ellis Avenue when a black car pulled up alongside, police said. Two males got out of the car and one of them pointed a gun at the woman.
The suspect told the woman to get out of her car and leaver her purse and cellphone, police said. The woman complied and the males fled in her BMW. No injuries were reported.
About 8:50 p.m., a 53-year-old ride-share driver was confronted by carjackers in the 2100 block of West Cortland Street in Bucktown, police said. Two males exited a black Audi sedan and demanded his 2015 Infiniti Qx60 at gunpoint. The man complied and the suspects drove off in his Infiniti.
At around 10:30 p.m., a woman was carjacked at gunpoint as she filled up her car with gas in Garfield Ridge. Two males confronted the 19-year-old and showed a gun in the 4500 block of South Cicero Avenue, police said.
The suspect told her to exit her 2006 red Pontiac G6, police said. The woman complied and the suspects drove off in her car.