Chicago Carjackings Continue Rising

Security Footage of a Carjacking this Spring

Daniel Bell, News Editor

Chicago saw 352 carjackings in the first two months of 2021– nearly 6 incidents every day, and more than double the rate that has been seen in previous years. City officials believe that, if the current pace holds, Chicago could see as many as 1800 carjackings before the year is done. These numbers are abnormally high, even for a city as large as Chicago, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made identifying and tracking suspects, most of whom are wearing masks and sometimes armed, more difficult. Many of the victims are members of ride-share programs such as Uber or Lyft, and several have been seriously injured, as well as having their cars and any personal property in those vehicles stolen. Another difficulty faced by both the federal and municipal governments is the age of the suspects – a significant number are younger than 20 years old – some not even old enough to be tried in regular court, straining the fragile federal juvenile court apparatus.

Chicago Police have been under pressure, both from City Hall and the public, to control these incidents. The department has made around 120 arrests, and recovered at least 13 vehicles, but as of yet have been unable to reduce the number of actual attacks. The department has announced plans to increase the number of officers on the street in an effort to prevent the robberies, as well as a new website to submit tips and information about any suspected incidents. In the meantime, city officials have been encouraging residents to stay alert, keep their vehicles locked, park securely, and not leave children unattended in a vehicle at any point. There have been many theories about the cause of the increase in robberies, several relating to a sense of boredom or unrest after more than a year of COVID lockdowns. These incidents are added on to an already higher than average murder rate in a city infamous for violence, and until a cause is found or alleviated, the carjackings in the city will likely continue at their accelerated rate.