Carjackings soar in Chicago, but few face arrest

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — Carjackings are surging in Chicago this year, but just as concerning as the rise in crime is a vast majority of them are not being solved.

WGN Investigates obtained police data showing a total of 1,125 carjackings through mid-November, a 124% increase over 2019 and the highest number in any of the last five years.

Police made arrests in just 176 or 16% of the cases. While that’s “up sharply” from last year, according to a police spokesman, it still means most are getting away with the crime.

“You can’t even feel safe sitting inside your car anymore,” said Katie, a Chicago woman who was recently carjacked on the North Side. She shared her story exclusively with WGN Investigates.

Images of “Katie’s” car after it was recovered by police, found with a bullet hole in the side

“My entire body was shaking,” she said. “He had the gun pointed at my chest and that’s when he started to demand everything from me.”

According to data analyzed by WGN Investigates, nine of the city’s 22 police districts each reported at least 50 carjackings this year.

The Harrison District on the West Side led the way with 140, followed by the Near West District with 97 and the Gresham District on the South Side with 91.

A police spokesman said possible reasons for the surge include more offenders wearing masks due to COVID-19, making it hard for victims to make a positive identification. Also, police are not chasing suspects in most cases due to the department’s strict vehicle pursuit policy.

He did note that while arrests may seem low, the number is up over last year.

“Working with prosecutors and our federal partners, detectives continue to put together the best possible cases to charge offenders with vehicular hijacking,” the spokesman said in a statement. “If anyone has information about one of these crimes, visit”

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