As Chicago carjackings soar, police arresting more kids

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO There have been more than 750 reported carjackings in Chicago in 2021, putting the city on pace to surpass last year’s 1,413 incidents, the highest total in at least a decade.

That’s not the only troubling trend.

WGN Investigates found 84 juveniles had been charged in carjackings through mid-June. That’s more than the number of adults charged this year.

“I just stared at him in the eye and into the barrel of the gun and I’m pleading with him ‘please, no,” Alyssa Blanchard said.

The CPS teacher was carjacked last year outside her South Side home. Authorities have charged a 13-year-old boy with the crime.

“I could have died. Literally, I should not be standing here talking to you right now,” Blanchard said.

Chicago police declined to comment for this story, although publicly police officials have blamed the increase on a court system that they say goes too easy on juveniles.

Children who commit carjackings face far less serious consequences than adults.

Despite this, juvenile justice experts say that’s for good reason, citing studies showing locking up kids can do more harm than good in the long term.

“Every young person who is engaged in harmful behavior has the potential to stop doing it in the future and in fact, most young people who commit serious felony crimes including violent crime will grow up into adults who don’t continue in that behavior,” Stephanie Kollmann said.

Kollmann is the policy director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.

Blanchard wants to have sympathy for the 13-year-old who allegedly did the carjacking, but acknowledges that the crime has shaken her faith in the system.

“I’m selling my house because I don’t know when this kid is getting out and when he does I want to be well out of dodge,” Blanchard said.

Read more Chicago news headlines here.

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