WEST LOOP — Police warned people in the West Loop to remain vigilant as car thefts surge in the area.
Officials from the Near West (12th) Police District said during a Tuesday meeting that while overall crime is down in the West Loop in the last 90 days, carjackings and car thefts are up.
Between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, 60 car thefts were reported compared to 14 during the same time period the year prior, said Police Sgt. Michael Karczewski. This includes three carjackings, which Karczewski grouped with thefts.
The most recent carjackings happened Jan. 4 at 19 N. Aberdeen St., Dec. 10 at 316 N. Union Ave. and Dec. 5 at 100 N. Halsted St., police said.
Car thefts were also reported at 1020 W. Madison St., 1045 W. Madison St., 901 W. Washington Blvd., 1000 W. Washington Blvd., 115 N. Carpenter St. over the past 90 days, officials said.
“This is where hopefully businesses can contribute and tell their customers to not just go in and grab their food and leave their car running, especially in the colder months,” Karczewski said.
Police officer Luis Crespo said the West Loop is categorized as a low-crime area compared to other parts of the district and the city as a whole.
“We try to educate the public that [car thefts are] a problem in this area and we would like you to keep an eye out and be vigilant of what’s going on and be cautious that this is taking place,” Crespo said.
Crespo said carjackings are up citywide and across the nation, including in other major cities like Miami and Los Angeles.
The Chicago Police Department formed teams of detectives who are working to stop the carjacking surge. Some of those arrested for carjacking include kids as young as 12, officials said.
“We are trying to work with the State’s Attorney’s Office to bring about effective sentencing” to deter minors from committing more carjackings, Crespo said. “We are taking this very seriously.”
West Loop resident Lavar Hoard, founder of The B_Line, a mile-long stretch of murals along Hubbard Street, asked for a bigger police presence to deter vandals and taggers from damaging murals.
“It just doesn’t see the attention it needs. I think criminals are taking note of that,” Hoard said.
Karczewski said resources are being primarily focused on “carjackings and issues of violent nature.”
The district is working to get back officers who had been diverted to a community safety team on the South and West sides, police said.
Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization asked for more patrols in the area.
“As you all are very well aware, we have increased density beyond belief that have been approved by the city,” Agostinelli said. “We need to make certain that we have enough patrol in the area to support the density coming on board.
“This is something we are taking seriously. It’s time for the neighbors to unite in one voice and that is to keep the neighborhood safe, clean and economically strong.”
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