Chicago vexed by spike in carjackings

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After several years of Chicago's image taking a beating for leading the nation in murders, the city is now a new number one in the category of carjackings.

The number of carjackings in Chicago has more than doubled the past two years and is headed for a total not seen here in a decade: more than 800.

So far in 2017 according to police records and reports, more than 720 cars have been jacked...that is more than two carjackings per day.

Data shows that it only took until mid-October of this year for the city to surpass total carjackings for all of 2016 (663).

Police carjacking stats have leaped since 2014 when there were 303 of the confrontational thefts.

For years Detroit was the nation's leader in carjackings, with more than 1200 in 2008. Through specialized police programs and a cooperative effort federal prosecutors in southeastern Michigan, Detroit has now reduced carjackings to less than 400 per year.

In Chicago, 90 percent of carjackings go unsolved.

And some end in murder.

That includes Including the August case of Jesus De La O, 28, who was killed in an attempted carjacking in Noble Square. De La O was dropping off a friend in the 1200 block of North Greenview Avenue when a man got out of a white car and tried to steal De La O's Infiniti, police said. When he refused to give up his car, shots were fired into the victim's Infiniti and he was hit in his torso, killing him.

Chicago police sources say that carjackings-along with many of the city's street killings-are generated by gangs. Since last summer a task force of city, county and federal officers has been working from a task force to interrupt Chicago's rapidly rising number of carjackings.

Despite the exceedingly violent nature of carjackings-and the public attention the crimes receive-they only account for about 3.0% of all motor vehicle thefts nationwide according to federal law enforcement records. The problem for motorists caught in carjackings is that weapons are used in about 90% of the crimes.

There are more than 38,000 successful carjackings each year-and another 10-15,000 attempts-all resulting in at least 15 related murders.

Even tracking the actual numbers proves difficult. Some police departments don't break out carjackings-instead charging the crime as either robbery, auto theft or aggravated assault.

It is a federal crime. In 1992, after a spike in violent carjackings, Congress passed the Federal Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992. The first federal carjacking law made it a federal crime (punishable by 15 years to life imprisonment) to use a firearm to steal "through force or violence or intimidation" a motor vehicle that had been shipped through interstate commerce
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