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Car-Jackings Back in the News

The Economist February 12th 2022, pp23 |United States|Carjacking|”Crime and no punishment” CHICAGO “What a carjacking wave says about American policing

Read The Economist for all the details

Summary by 2244

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For most of us carjacking is a crime that diminished greatly a “generation ago” after “the advent of car immobilizers” but several factors including, you guessed it, the pandemic has resulted in a surge in carjacking in Chicago and other American cities. So much of an increase in Chicago that Mayor Lori Lightfoot commented that “‘there’s a very real and pervasive fear of carjacking across our city, our region, and our state.’” Carjacking isn’t tracked consistently but police elsewhere in Minneapolis, New Orleans, Oakland and Philadelphia…”show similar surges to that in Chicago.”

Why the surge?

“Cars go on to be used in drive-by shootings”

According to Tom Dart (Cook County Sheriff), “‘With covid, a lot of the different things that had kept [young people] engaged…were shut down.’”

Guns have become more readily available with the pandemic

The value of second-hand cars has increased

Children are often used as “getaway drivers” as “the bad guys” know that kids if caught don’t suffer meaningful penalties.

Only “11% of carjackings in Chicago resulted in an arrest in 2020.” It’s so bad that perps post on social media a joyride etc. in a jacked car.

Masking for covid, makes recognizing a potential carjacker difficult until the last moment and then the masking makes identification difficult as well. Unlike murders, most carjackings are not targeted at known persons. Most arrests come from forensics rather than typical investigations involving suspects known to the victim.

Any solutions?

Mr Dart wants car makers to ease police access to car-tracking systems. Currently, approval from the owner is typically required.

The authors note that “American police forces…are more reactive than proactive.” In Chicago only “45% of homicides are cleared up” and murders usually involve people “who know each other.” In London there is less access to guns and 98% of “murders were solved in 2021.”


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