11 years for Chicago carjacker who was tracked by victim’s stolen AirPods

A Chicago man arrested for carjacking a driver in Lincoln Park after the victim tracked the movements of AirPods inside the hijacked vehicle has been given an 11-year sentence.

Kejuan Franklin, 19, received the sentence from Judge Diana Kenworthy after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon, according to court records.

Prosecutors said the victim was standing with a witness near his Toyota Prius in the 1200 block of West Fullerton when Franklin pedaled up on a bicycle on the evening of October 14, 2021.

Franklin jumped off the bike and slid into the driver’s seat. But when the victim tried to get him out, Franklin allegedly pointed a laser-sight-equipped gun at him and the witness.

The victim pushed his companion out of the line of fire, and Franklin drove away with the car. And the victim’s AirPods, which were inside the vehicle, went along for the ride.

Police tracked their signal and located the hijacked car in the 8200 block of South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. They said Franklin and a woman were standing beside it when they arrived.

Kejuan Franklin pleaded guilty to carjacking a driver at gunpoint in the 1200 block of West Fullerton. | Chicago Police Department; Google

Oh, the victim’s AirPods? They were in Franklin’s pocket.

Prosecutors said officers also found a loaded handgun in the car’s center console. It had a laser sight attached.

Franklin got a pretty heavy sentence, even though he has no other criminal background. His plea deal saved him from the possibility of a much longer sentence. By pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon instead of with a firearm, he avoided a 15-year sentencing enhancement.

His 11-year prison term will be halved for good behavior. He is also receiving 1,125 days of credit earned in jail. The Illinois Department of Corrections says he will be paroled the day after Christmas 2025.

Franklin’s carjacking was one of 194 vehicular hijackings recorded by Chicago police during October 2021. That makes it the fifth-worst month since at least January 2001, which is as far back as the city’s public crime database goes.

Vehicular hijacking reports began to fade last summer as the “Kia Boy” phenomenon arrived in Chicago. Using a simple technique shared widely on social media, thieves can steal many Kia and Hyundai models with little more than a USB plug.

Auto theft reports skyrocketed immediately, and there are no signs that the problem will end soon. Car theft reports are up 104% this year compared to the same time last year and up 228% compared to 2019, according to CPD’s latest CompStat data.