To say things aren’t going well in the Windy City under the leadership of Mayor Lori Lightfoot would likely cause some serious rolling of the eyes among the city’s residents. Chicago has more than its share of problems with the pandemic and ongoing riots and looting of course. As far as the pandemic goes, however, Lightfoot recently said that she thinks the restaurants and bars should reopen for indoor service as quickly as possible. I’m sure it’s just a bizarre coincidence that she didn’t arrive at that conclusion until Joe Biden was being sworn in.
But beyond the protests and the plague, run of the mill gang violence and crime has continued to spiral out of control. CBS Chicago has been tracking the numbers and found that the one category of crime that has seriously rocketed off the charts is carjacking. A large share of the attacks appear to be related to gang activity, though not all, and the thieves appear to be growing increasingly brazen as well as more violent.
Police Supt. David Brown said Thursday there had been 144 vehicular hijackings in Chicago since the beginning of January – placing the city on track to record 2,000 carjackings this year if the trend continues.
Brown said police have arrested 104 offenders.
“The spike in vehicular hijackings are a regional and national issue that both urban and suburban cities are experiencing across the country,” Brown said. “Motives include joyriding and to facilitate anonymity while committing other crimes that include robbery and shootings.”
If you read through the linked article, the stories of some of the victims are really wrenching. People are afraid to drive their cars at night and, increasingly, during the day as well. Gang members are running up to vehicles idling at stoplights in broad daylight, shoving a gun in the driver’s face, and forcing them out of the car. The fact that nobody has wound up being murdered this month during one of these heists is almost a miracle.
The fact that the Chicago PD has managed to arrest more than 100 suspects is impressive, but there are many more such cases that go unsolved. The cops are attempting to round up the manpower to expand their carjacking task force, but the fact that a city needs to form a carjacking task force in the first place should really tell us something.
Here’s one other disturbing trend. The gangs are recruiting new members at younger and younger ages. A disturbing number of carjackings this month were committed by juvenile offenders.
Carjackings have pretty much dominated our headlines over the last few months, and the CBS 2 Investigators have learned the majority of the arrests have involved juveniles.
As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, there is a renewed push for stiffer penalties for those caught. Some have questioned whether the penalties for juvenile offenders are doing enough to solve the problem.
Some Illinois lawmakers have also been trying to push stiffer penalties for years, but some advocates say we are not looking at the right problem.
Most of these carjackings involve teens under 18. Gee… do you think there’s a problem?
Thanks to a 2016 criminal justice reform law, it’s nearly impossible to transfer a suspect age 16 or younger into adult court. That means that they get off with very little time in juvenile detention if any. The police know this but are frustrated as to what to do about it. Adult gang members are able to convince the younger ones that they will be out in no time if they get caught. So the kids are given a gun and sent out to “work” so they can work their way up in the ranks. One suspect from last week who stole a Porsche Cayenne at gunpoint was 13 years old.
Chicago is on its way to setting records of the wrong kind that haven’t been seen since the 90s. And what is Mayor Lightfoot doing about it. She’s still pushing to pass “civilian oversight” of the Chicago Police Department because clearly, the cops must be the problem, right? I don’t know how anyone with the means to escape stays in Chicago at this point. I know it can’t be the pizza. (Kidding! Well… no, I’m actually not.)