LAKEVIEW — There’s a surprising victim of Chicago’s carjacking problem: pet cats.
More than 750 carjackings have been reported this year in the city, according to Chicago Police Department data, and in at least two incidents, pet cats were in the backseats of stolen cars.
In one case, the cat was successfully returned to its out-of-state owners. But the owners of a cat stolen last week from Lakeview are waiting for a similar happy ending.
Hoping to help, PAWS supporters are offering a $5,000 reward for the return of Luna, the cat stolen in a carjacking in Lakeview.
Luna was taken Friday, when a family friend was picking up the cat from her owner’s home. The friend was pulled out of their car at knifepoint, and two men got in the car and drove off — with Luna still in her cat carrier in the back seat, according to PAWS.
The car was found Saturday in North Lawndale, but Luna and the pet carrier were not inside. PAWS staff and volunteers have searched the area and put up flyers, as Luna was adopted out by PAWS.
Luna is a friendly 7-year-old tabby with gray and orange fur. The cat was in a black and gray, hard-surface pet carrier when she was stolen.
Anyone with information on Luna is asked to call 630-995-2009. She can be dropped off, no questions asked, at PAWS facilities at 1997 N. Clybourn Ave. or 3516 W. 26th St.
It is not unprecedented for cats to be stolen in carjackings and then returned to their owners.
On Aug. 15, a cat taken in an Englewood carjacking was found in the western suburbs and returned to its owners, who live in Minnesota.
The cat, named Opal, was taken May 31. Her owners were traveling through Chicago during a cross-country move and stopped on Garfield Boulevard near the Dan Ryan Expressway to fill up on gas.
While at the gas station, the couple was carjacked at gunpoint, said Autumn Ganza, who runs a one-woman cat rescue operation called Castle Blackpaw. Opal was in the car when it was stolen.
Their car was found in Englewood, but Opal was not there, Ganza said.
The traumatic story was shared among Chicago’s pet rescue community. Ganza, who helps neighbors feed and fix feral cats in Englewood, was among the volunteers looking for Opal.
“Everyone in Chicago was looking for Opal,” she said. “It was a big deal.”
For months, Opal could not be found. But last month, Maywood Police found the cat and brought Opal to a local animal welfare organization, which got in touch with Ganza.
Ganza was in communication with Opal’s owners, who drove down from Minnesota and picked up their cat in Rockford.
Opal was skinny and has some injuries that required medical attention, Ganza said. The cat was lucky to be alive after presumably traveling from Englewood to Maywood, she said.
“What she was up to those couple of months is a complete mystery,” Ganza said. “Now she is home. No one could believe it.”
Carjackings have plagued Chicago residents this year.
In the first six weeks of 2020, there were 110 carjackings in the city, according to NBC 5. A rash of carjackings was recently reported in Bucktown, and a group of teenagers have been linked to a string of 16 carjackings on the Far South Side this year.
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