Chicago sets a new record for February carjacking reports — up 18% over last year (and up 390% compared to February 2019)

Carjacking reports increased 18% in February compared to the same month last year, according to the latest info from CPD. But you wouldn’t know that by the way the department framed its monthly “crime is down” press release yesterday. More on that in a minute.

One of the lastest hijackings occurred Tuesday evening in the Loop. Three men displayed a knife and took a man’s car in a parking lot at 538 South Wabash around 9:15 p.m., according to a statement released by Columbia College.

Police found the 2013 Kia Forte abandoned near the south city limits in the Riverdale neighborhood about an hour later, according to a CPD report.

Columbia College said another person reported that three people approached them on the same parking lot before the hijacking and one of the offenders reached into their car, but nothing was taken.

Earlier in the evening, a 51-year-old man told police that his car was stolen from the 900 block of West Roscoe in Lakeview when he ran into a nearby restaurant around 7:38 p.m., a police spokesperson said.

The victim said two men got out of a black Chevrolet sedan and drove away with his red Toyota. When he ran after his car, the driver of the sedan flashed a gun at him, he said.

Because the man’s car was not taken by force, the case is classified as a motor vehicle theft, not a carjacking, the spokesperson said.

Up is down

CPD issues a press release on the first day of every month that invariably includes questionably-selected comparisons that allow the department to claim that crime is down.

Last month, the city had the worst February for hijackings on record. You wouldn’t know that by reading CPD’s press release.

“Through February 28, the city has recorded 306 vehicular hijackings, an 11% decrease compared to this time last year,” the police department crowed Tuesday.

There were 147 hijackings in February, up from 125 during the same month last year. By comparison, February 2019 had just 30 cases.

But, it is true that hijackings are down year-to-date. That’s because, thankfully, the city did not have more carjackings in January than during January 2021, which is believed to be the single worst month for hijackings in the city’s history.

Progress is progress, though.

CPD fine-tuned another carjacking-related line in its latest press release. See if you can spot the difference.

February 1 press release: “Since the start of the year, [officers] made 142 carjacking related arrests, including 27 for vehicular hijacking.”

March 1 press release: “Officers have made 238 motor vehicle-related arrests so far this year, including 47 for vehicular hijacking.”

The primary difference is that for over a year, CPD has been lumping all motor vehicle-related arrests into a category it labeled “carjacking related arrests.”

That claim is false because most cars stolen in Chicago are not hijacked. They are taken while the owner leaves them running on the street — like the guy in Lakeview last night — and, increasingly, through the use of cloned key fobs.

So, police brass have been pumping up the appearance of carjacking arrests by including the arrests of people accused of trespassing in a vehicle or driving a stolen car in the department’s “carjacking-related” arrest talking point.

They didn’t do that this month, which is good. It gives the public a clearer picture of what is really happening. So, of course, it was probably a mistake.

Crime is … UP?

CWB Chicago readers already know that major crime categories are seeing significant increases this year — up 34% just last week, we reported.

The increase is so great, even CPD couldn’t figure out a way to cover it up. In a rare moment of honesty, the department admitted that all major crimes categories are up this year. Although, they didn’t break the bad news until the eighth paragraph:

Based on Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) figures, the national standard relied upon by the federal government for consistent crime reporting, Part I crimes are up 22% year to date, while the violent crime subtotal is up 4%. Additionally, following a consecutive four-year decline that began in 2018, the city has experienced a 31% increase in overall property crime year to date. Despite this uptick, we still see a reduction in property crimes compared to the same time period in 2019, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enjoy that 31% “uptick,” y’all.

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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