Tourists are robbed and hijacked at River North gas station — while CPD practices anti-looting drill downtown

Two tourists were robbed and carjacked at gunpoint as they filled their vehicle with gas at a River North service station early Wednesday. The hijacking took place while dozens of CPD units from across the city were conducting practice drills to seal off the downtown area in preparation for any future looting or “large group” events.

The victims, men ages 22 and 20, were preparing to fill their white Audi A6 with gas when two strangers walked up to them at BP, 750 North Wells, around 12:58 a.m., according to a CPD report.

Both offenders displayed handguns and started going through the victims’ pockets, taking their cash, said Kellie Bartoli, a police spokesperson.

One of the hijackers then climbed inside the victims’ car and headed south on Franklin Street, Bartoli said. The other man ran from the scene on foot. he was last seen heading south through an alley, according to Bartoli.

Police searched the area for the car and the suspects, but they came up empty-handed. Bartoli said the suspects are Black males between 18- and 20-years-old who stand 5’7″ to 5’9″ tall. They wore black clothing and masks.

Officers gave the victims a ride back to their hotel in the Loop.

The hijacking unfolded less than 20 minutes after a large contingent of CPD units completed a test-run of the city’s plan to seal off River North and the Mag Mile in the event of another major incident such as looting. A similar drill was still underway in the Loop when the carjackers struck.

Chicago police executives have launched similar drills over the past year, usually before major holidays or when their crystal ball tells them something bad might happen. The practice sessions draw police units from across the city to sit at specific locations throughout the central business district. After all of the units arrive and sit around for a while, they return to their home districts.

Police units that participate in the drills operate on a different radio frequency than the local police districts, so they would not have known about the hijacking. They also don’t respond to calls for help.

Lakeview hijacking

Two young carjackers took a contractor’s SUV by force in Lakeview on Tuesday morning. Police found the stolen Nissan Murano abandoned at a Bucktown service station less than an hour later.

The victim, a 28-year-old man, told police that five hijackers took the vehicle containing his work tools from near the intersection of Nelson and Lakewood around 7:30 a.m. Two of the hijackers drove away with his car while the other three fled in a tail car, according to a police report.

Officers were still speaking with the victim when two cops found the Murano abandoned at the Shell station, 1763 West Armitage. Witnesses saw two males who appeared to be in their early teens run from the car. No arrests were made.

Chicago police took reports for 139 hijacking cases during the first three weeks of December. That compares to 98 during the same period last year and 39 in 2019.

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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