Woman charged with hijacking 2 cars, including one that struck and seriously injured bicyclist

Veronica Harden | CCSO

An Irving Park woman is charged with two recent violent carjackings on the North Side, including the hijacking of a vehicle later involved in a hit-and-run collision that left a bicyclist seriously injured.

Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Veronica Harden, 36, held in lieu of $1 million bail.

The first carjacking occurred around 1:25 p.m. February 6 in the 3300 block of West Belmont. Prosecutors said a woman left her 8-year-old son in her parked car while she ran into an Aldi store. The victim ran toward the Buick Enclave when she saw it back out of the parking space, Assistant State’s Attorney David Shin said.

She grabbed the door handle and was dragged for about 20 feet as a heavy-set woman with pink hair drove it away. The Buick ran over the victim, and she suffered a broken foot, broken ribs, and a punctured lung, Shin said.

As the carjacker turned a nearby corner, the 8-year-old opened his back door and jumped from the moving car, according to Shin. The boy suffered a sore ankle.

Surveillance video at a Target store later recorded Harden as she tried to use one of the victim’s credit cards which was inside the car, Shin said.

Alex Betzel | GoFundMe

According to police, on February 10, someone who was driving the hijacked Enclave struck Alex Betzel as she biked north on Kimball near Addison Street.

“She lost a lot of blood, both her lungs were severely bruised and punctured by her ribs, causing them to fill with blood and one to collapse,” Betzel’s girlfriend said in a GoFundMe post. “She has nine broken ribs, with multiple being completely displaced, a broken cheekbone, and a laceration on her forehead.”

Police found the Buick behind an unoccupied home in the 3100 block of North Christiana on February 19, CWBChicago reported.

Shin said the owner of the home gave police permission to search the building. Cops allegedly found property belonging to Harden and the carjacking victim inside the home.

Harden has not been charged with the hit-and-run.

In the second carjacking, Harden allegedly pulled a 64-year-old woman from her car on the Walgreen’s parking lot, 4343 North Kedzie, around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 24.

Shin said the victim had just returned to her car after picking up a prescription when Harden opened the door and ordered her out. When the victim refused, Harden grabbed her by her clothing and threw her out, Shin said. She then allegedly drove away with the woman’s car.

Witnesses from both carjackings identified Harden as the hijacker, Shin said.

Police were searching the area near Harden’s home for the second carjacked vehicle on Friday when they discovered it in traffic, according to Shin. Harden was driving when cops pulled it over, he said. She was allegedly wearing the same clothes that the carjackers are seen wearing in surveillance video of the hijackings.

Harden, a six-time convicted felon, is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a passenger under age 16; aggravated battery of a victim over age 60; aggravated battery; kidnapping a victim under age 13; and aggravated vehicular hijacking of a handicapped victim, according to CPD.

She did not appear at her bond hearing because she is hospitalized to treat collapsed veins, sores on her legs, and sepsis, a police officer told Judge Ortiz.

Update March 12, 2021: Added Harden’s mug shot, which was not previously available.

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About CWBChicago 6700 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com