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City Council Public Safety Committee Holding Hearing On Carjackings Friday

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Alderman are frustrated, residents are terrified, and victims are left traumatized as the number of carjackings keeps growing in Chicago, and on Friday the City Council Public Safety Committee is holding a public hearing on what might be done to stem the tide.

In just the first 21 days of the new year, there have been roughly 150 carjackings in Chicago. 

Four more carjackings were reported within four hours across the city overnight.

Between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Thursday, in Garfield Ridge, Bucktown, North Kenwood, and South Austin residents were the victims of carjackings.

Each incident involved two attackers. Victims reported one of the men pointed a gun, before stealing their cars. It is not known if these incidents are connected.

The City Council Public Safety Committee is holding a public hearing Friday morning on the rising number of carjackings in Chicago.

The meeting kicked off with a number of heated comments from the public, saying this has gone on far too long for us to only now be paying attention. Many of those who called into the meeting stressed the need for actual punishments for carjackings.

Some residents came up with ideas themselves for how to better work together. One Chicago resident said, in December, her son was a victim of an attempted carjacking and robbery that left him paralyzed, with no justice.

"Despite video of the vicious attack, no arrest. Despite identification of the vehicle, and no arrests, even with the identification of the individual that rented the get-away vehicle," Stephanie Martin said.

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

Before the meeting, CBS 2 talked with Alderman looking for answers, and victims who are pushing for solutions not only for today. They want to tackle the root of the problem.

Victim Erin Groble is one of them. She was in her boyfriend Sam's car when she was forcibly pulled out by two teenagers and carjacked in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon.

She issued this letter to those at today's Public Safety Committee meeting:

"...I am crying and shaking just writing this and reliving it in my head, knowing that it could have been worse and that, too often, victims of carjackings are also physically harmed or killed..."

Groble told CBS 2 it can happen anywhere.

"It was really upsetting that it happened to me in a neighborhood where I previously felt very safe and that's been taken from me," she said.

Her boyfriend Sam hopes also spoke at Friday's meeting and wants to help find long-term solutions. He said he reached out to the University of Chicago's Crime Lab and has a virtual meeting Tuesday.

"We're going to start talking about, you know, what we can do to deal with the systemic issues that we're facing in Chicago," he told CBS 2 before the meeting.

Ald. Michelle Smith (43rd), who helped initiate Friday's meeting, along with Ald. Scott Waguespack (32rd), both stress the need for more cooperation between the police, the Cook County States Attorney's Office, and judges.

"I think we need to have that stronger pushback when it comes to the judges, instead of getting a slap on the wrist, that these people really get a sentence that's going to deter them and future people from doing it," Waguespack said.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown held a new conference Thursday announcing a team approach to combat the recent increase in carjackings.

One of their biggest concerns is the age of these offenders with some as young as 12 years old. The average age of the robbers between 15 and 20 often working in crews using the stolen vehicle to commit other crimes.

Chicago Police also offered some tips to keep yourself safe on the road. Be sure to keep your car locked while doing things like pumping gas; don't keep your car running. And always have an escape route in mind, and keep distance between the cars around you while at a stop sign or red light.

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