Woman carjacked at gunpoint, then assailants return moments later looking for keys, as suspects later arrested
by BRIAN NADIG
The 16th Police District is urging residents to be careful when letting their vehicle warm up due to a recent carjacking and reported thefts of unattended cars left with the engine running.
“It’s a crime of opportunity for the offender,” captain Mike Barz said at the March 17 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee.
Barz said that residents should survey their surroundings before leaving their front porch to head to their parked car on the street and report suspicious activity.
A woman reported that she was carjacked at gunpoint while she was sitting in her vehicle waiting for it to warm up about 6:10 a.m. Thursday, March 17, in the 7100 block of West Summerdale Avenue, police said.
After starting to drive away, the assailants realized that the car had been turned on via a push-button and system and returned to get the keys, police said. They reportedly patted her down but could not find the keys and then drove away for a second time, police said.
The Vehicular Hijacking Task Force, which includes city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, assisted with the investigation, and three suspects were arrested a few hours later on the South Side, Barz said. A Police Observation Device camera with a license plate reader indicated that the vehicle was traveling on the Dan Ryan Expressway, assisting with the investigation, he said.
One of the suspects, who was identified by police as Damajae Mitchell, age 18, of the 1700 block of West 80th Street, was charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and resisting/obstructing an officer, police said. Two other men were charged with criminal trespass to a motor vehicle in connection with the incident, police said.
Barz said that thieves are looking for vehicles with the engine running so that they can make a quick getaway and that with the warmer weather in spring he hopes the rate of vehicle thefts will go down. There have been 88 vehicle thefts in the district in 2022 compared to 66 during the same period last year, and that he said a significant number of the thefts have been unattended cars with the engine on.
It also was reported at the meeting that the district’s court advocates are now being allowed to attend virtually those court hearings which also are in-person.
Court advocate Eva Skowronski reported that some judges were restricting virtual access when the hearing also was available in-person to the public. She said that Cook County CommissionerBridget Degnen’s office made some inquires, and the problem has been addressed.
Advocates, who are volunteers, attend court hearings in an effort to show support for the victim and demonstrate to the judge the importance of the case.
The committee selected officers Lee Jackson, Esteban Ramos and Mike Gremo as “Officers of the Month” for their Feb. 2 arrest of a man suspected of domestic battery. The suspect reportedly had been beating a woman, and one of the responding officers reported seeing through a window the man dragging the woman. The suspect was taken into custody after the officers forced open the door.
The committee also held a ceremony for previous award winners Damien Cabrera and Jose Deleon who arrested a man on Jan. 11 after he struggle with police following a traffic stop. The man reportedly had a gun in his waistband.
Barz said that the incident demonstrates the potential threats police face.