Two people in their 50s were carjacked in separate incidents Thursday on the South and West Sides, including a man who was beaten with a pipe in Austin.
About 6:35 p.m., the 55-year-old was sitting at a red light in the 400 block of North Cicero Avenue when two males approached, one armed with a gun and the other with a short metal pipe, Chicago police said.
They told the man to get out of his Acura MDX and he complied, but when he did so the male with the pipe hit him several times, police said.
The carjackers fled in the man’s vehicle, police said. The man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
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.
Earlier Thursday, Police Supt. David 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.
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 Cook County state's attorneys for prosecuting.
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.
Brown called on others working with the city's young people, 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 added 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.
CPD has provided tips on the best practices to avoid becoming a carjacking victim in Chicago. Brown said the groups of carjackers tend to travel in pairs or fours, and are typically canvassing individuals for an opportunity to arise.
"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 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 said earlier Thursday they were searching for a group of men involved in a series of carjackings and armed robberies in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
The group is also suspected to have committed recent shootings in the 10th and 11th police districts on the West Side and are considered “armed and dangerous,” police said.
In each incident, the men use vehicles taken in previous armed robberies, Chicago police said.
In one robbery Sunday, captured on video, the men approached a restaurant through a drive-thru in the 5600 Block of South Harlem and then exited their vehicle, and entered the restaurant through the drive-thru window, police said.
One reported carjacking happened about 7:20 a.m. Tuesday in the 9800 Block of South Halsted Street and another about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 200 Block of South Wacker Place, police said.
The group was also allegedly involved in armed carjackings around the same time in Summit, Maywood, Matteson, Palos Heights, Oak Forest, and Oak Park, police said.
There are three to four men in the group, police said. They wear black clothing, masks and were seen driving a silver 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander.
On Wednesday, police said there were six carjackings reported in the city. In at least four of those incidents, the rideshare drivers were targeted, authorities said.
"If it looks like trouble, nine times out of 10 it is trouble," said Michael Wilhite, a retired DEA agent who consults for law enforcement. "Just be aware of your surroundings and be safe."
Wilhite recommends locking doors at all times, leaving space between cars when at a stoplight and not leaving your car if carjackers attempt to bump your vehicle from behind. Instead, he said, drive to the nearest police station.
"The whole goal is to survive the encounter survive the encounter," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Area Four detectives at 312-746-8251.