While violent carjackings make headlines, Chicago police say they face new threats as criminals commit a wide variety of crimes.
Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott said the city has seen an increase in car thefts, burglaries and catalytic converter thefts.
Kia and Hyundai have accounted for nearly half of all vehicles stolen so far this year, according to police.
“We’re seeing an alarming increase in the number of these vehicles being used for violent crimes such as murders, shootings and robberies. It’s very dangerous,” McDermott said.
After some success in fighting carjacking, CPD is partnering again with the Cook County Sheriff to launch a new program targeting stolen vehicles. The initiative combines free safety hardware with preemptive permission from owners to track stolen vehicles.
“We’re getting 80 percent back,” said Cook County Sheriff’s Police Chief Leo Schmitz. “When we first started doing this, it took about 190 hours to get those cars back. We are halving it.”
Schmitz said tracking is important. That’s why sheriffs want drivers to sign up for a program that allows officers to ask the manufacturer to track their vehicle if it’s stolen. If they agree, they receive a series of stickers indicating that the vehicle will be tracked to deter potential thieves.
“You want people to know that you are taking steps to protect not only your vehicle, but your property, and that you are cooperating with authorities should they choose to steal. said Glenn Brooks, director of the CPD’s Community Policing Office.
At upcoming events, Hyundai and Kia owners can also get a limited number of free steering wheel locks.The bright yellow device keeps the front wheels from spinning. Those colors also help deter potential thieves.Brooks said the devices are being shipped “pallet full” from car companies.
Police will also distribute stickers that engrave the serial number on the catalytic converter so that it can be traced if stolen. Valuable converters now do not have serial numbers, making it difficult for prosecutors to prosecute thieves who try to sell them to junkyards.
“The following are important tools that communities can implement to make a difference,” said Brooks.