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Chicago Carjacking Crisis Brings Together Citizens And City Officials; 'Should There Be Penalties? Yes'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A state of emergency -- that is what some aldermen are now calling the carjacking crisis in Chicago. And there are new steps are being taken to protect people.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Tuesday, there have been more than 150 carjackings in Chicago since Jan. 1. It's a stunning number -- more than five a day on average. And Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) said it required action.

"This is when a community and government come together to really figure this thing out," Coleman said.

She is one of five West and South Side aldermen actively promoting a new, 30-day gas station security pilot program launched last week. She said it now includes 59 gas stations around the city and nearby suburbs, including one at 59th Street and Ashland Avenue, that have been targeted by carjackers in the past three years.

Right now, security companies like Kates Detective and Security and towing companies like W&W Towing are volunteering for the marked patrols. But Coleman said it could, eventually, be taxpayer subsidized.

The carjacking crime wave has left dozens of victims traumatized. And has many city drivers on edge. Some critics blame lax prosecution on the proliferation of the crime.

"This is a very sensitive matter, because those same young people are young men from neighborhoods like Englewood, like Back of the Yards, like Chatham, like Park Manor," Coleman said.

She added that it's important to get to the root of why these young men turn to crime.

"Should there be penalties for those that commit the crimes? Yes," Coleman said. "Do we need to take a closer look at what that what that looks like with our Cook County State's Attorney;'s with the Circuit Court with (Chief) Judge (Timothy) Evans' office, yes."

The gas stations in this pilot program will be patrolled by marked security vehicles between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. every day, with the specific focus of keeping women and seniors safe.

Click here for more information on how to help with the program as well as locations where the patrols will be placed.

An interactive map at this link shows the change in the number of carjackings in Chicago neighborhoods between 2019 and 2020.

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