Cook County carjackings are on the rise once again and are on track to be the worst in two decades.
According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, carjackings countywide are showing a 44% increase this year compared to the previous year.
A task force, including the Chicago Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois State Police and federal agencies are working together to stop the surge by sharing carjacking-related data. The goal is to track trends across the county that will help law enforcement stop carjackers. The taskforce will also use helicopters to eliminate dangerous car chases.
“[Carjackings] are horrible,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. “It’s happening all around the country—whether you are talking about Minneapolis, [their carjackings] have gone up to 500% and New York has gone up 80%. It’s difficult for all the departments, but the notion was that first thing we really need to do is to get the data and analyze who is doing the [carjacking], where [carjackings] are occurring more often and then develop strategies”
Dart said several factors contributed to the rise in carjackings this year.
“Over half of the carjackings are done by juveniles,” Dart said. “And during COVID-19, so many of the afterschool programs and schools were [closed]. There were less [activities] for kids to do. That was part of it, but there were other dynamics that were coming into play,” Dart said. “[before the pandemic] if you had an individual with a mask on coming anywhere near you, you knew there was trouble afoot. Now, everyone has a mask on. As far as trying to arrest and prosecute people, it’s much more difficult to identify [suspects] because the norm is that everyone wears masks.”
Among some of the database findings, the most targeted cars have been the Toyota Camry, the Nissan Altima and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. More carjackings occurred on Tuesdays. And two-thirds of the victims have been male.
Dart said to prevent a vehicular crime from happening, one should be alert of their surroundings, but not be reckless with their safety.
“You can always get your property back, but you cannot save your life. Fighting [carjackers] off is not a good idea. Give people your car.” Dart said.