CHICAGO (WGN) — Chicago police said Thursday that there have been 144 carjackings this year so far.
Carjackings rose about 135% last year to 1,415 and continue at a high pace this year, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said. The youngest carjacker in recent attacks was about 12 years old, and the average age of the offenders have been roughly between 15 and 20, he said.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan noted the lack of fear on the part of the carjackers, pointing to the one involving the 12-year-old that occurred on Jan. 15, while a woman was parking her car in a garage.
“She came back out and a 12-year-old was getting in her car with a gun,” Deenihan said. “The boy said: ‘Move or I will shoot you,’ before taking off with her car, prompting a police chase and his eventual arrest.”
“This shows the brazenness of these carjackers,” Deenihan said. “And it shows what we’re up against.”
Brown said officers have arrested 104 people so far but it’s important to note in most of these carjackings, there are multiple people involved. To combat this, Chicago police are expanding the carjacking task force created last February.
On Wednesday night, three rideshare drivers were carjacked on the city’s West Side near Ukrainian Village and Humboldt Park — one on the same block another rideshare driver was carjacked last weekend.
Police said in all of these cases, the suspects order an Uber or Lyft, and when the driver drops them off at their destination, the suspects attack the driver and take off with their car.
Suspected carjackers aren’t just posing as rideshare customers. Police released video on Thursday that shows a carjacking on Wacker Drive near the Willis Tower Wednesday morning. In the video, an SUV pulls up next to someone sitting in a car. Someone gets out with a gun and orders the driver out and then takes off in the car.
The Chicago Police Department plans to to add enough staff so there can be a dedicated carjacking team in each of the five detective divisions throughout the city.
The department said they’re also working the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to focus on stronger prosecution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.