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Wicker Park, Bucktown On Edge After Spate Of Weekend Carjackings

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago Police on Monday were investigating a rash of carjackings and attempted carjackings in trendy Milwaukee Avenue Corridor neighborhoods.

As CBS 2's Tim McNicholas reported, there were four carjackings reported over the weekend in the Bucktown and Wicker Park areas. Security video of one of the frightening encounters has surfaced.

The incident caught on camera happened in the parking lot of a restaurant at North and Ashland avenues. The victim told police she wound up damaging her car in an attempt to escape.

The video shows a woman sitting in her car around 2 p.m. Sunday. Two men are seen walking out of the alley, and the 37-year-old victim said one of them started pulling on her passenger door.

She puts the car in reverse to try to get away, and then the men run off. Police pull up to the lot about five minutes later.

"It's terrifying," said Karen Neimanus.

Neimanus lives about half a mile away in the 1600 block of North Paulina Street, where another attempted carjacking was reported on Saturday.

"I've been in this neighborhood and I've seen many changes, all of which have been really pretty good," Neimanus said. "This is not a good change."

In the 1900 block of West Cortland Street, a man said the carjackers punched him in the face on Saturday and he fought back. Then, the two suspects ran back to their car and took off.

In the 1800 block of North Wood Street, a woman said a man successfully stole her car after punching her in the face.

Bucktown resident Alyssa Barnes is hoping the carjackings will slow down.

"I feel like people are probably strapped for cash right now," Barnes said. "We're going through a global pandemic."

Citywide, carjackings are up more than 120 percent, with 1,145 reported this year compared with 516 this time last year.

In the Shakespeare (14th) Police District, home to Bucktown and Wicker Park, there has been a 71 percent increase – from 24 to 41.

"I don't know what I can do, but it scares me." Neimanus said.

No injuries were reported in the carjackings, but it is safe to say the crash that followed one of them did not feel good.

Police are also looking into a carjacking on Saturday in the 2800 block of North Francisco Avenue in Avondale, in which the carjacker displayed a handgun.

Police on Monday were still investigating which of the incidents might be related or whether it is the same carjackers committing the crimes. Officers are looking for three men in their 20s.

CBS 2 reported on another rash of carjackings in Bucktown in early October. Police said they do not have any indication right now that those incidents are related to the crimes this past weekend.

Anyone with information is asked to call Area Five detectives at (312) 746-7394.

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