Community meeting

Police hold community meeting for Bucktown and residents of Wicker Park after wave of car hijackings

CHICAGO – A wave of car hijackings in Bucktown and Wicker Park is worrying residents, and authorities are seeking solutions.

Between September 13 and 20, there were eight car hijackings in the area, four of them in a single night.

On the night of September 13, police said suspects showed a black handgun and ordered victims to get out of their vehicles while demanding PIN codes to charge cards and cellphones.

On Tuesday evening, frustrated residents gathered in Churchill Park for a 14th District community meeting on how to stop carjackings.

Steve Jensen, of the Bucktown Community Organization, said there is a growing consensus among residents that the Cook County State Attorney’s Office is too lenient towards offenders.

“The police are doing their job, the citizens are doing their job, but these 15-year-old violent criminals are usually fired,” Jensen said. “Carjacking is an adult-level crime with no adult-level consequences, and that needs to change.”

It was a sentiment shared by 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack.

“They are very cheeky,” Waguespack said. “Some of them are not billed as we would like. “

Police from the city’s vehicle hijacking unit noted that investigators were using technologies such as license plate readers to track criminals – but said the best way to secure convictions was for the victims and witnesses identify suspects.

“I understand that part of the frustration is crime versus misdemeanor, that it all comes from identifying witnesses,” Lt. Thomas Keene said. “What was this person’s role in the crime and who can identify him.” Can the witness identify them, can the victim identify them? “

After the meeting, some residents said they were fed up with political speeches and now wanted to see prosecution.

“I think it was still the same old one, and again I was looking for more details on what we can do as a community to really make a difference, and it sounded a bit like empty words. “said Carol Dorf.

At the end of the meeting, police distributed flyers to give residents common sense advice on how to avoid being the victim of auto theft. Anyone with information about a carjacking can leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.