One hundred motor vehicle thefts a day.
That’s the recent daily count in Chicago in October as motor vehicle thefts spiked dramatically in the last three months. Compare that to the first half of the year when Chicago was averaging “just” 35 thefts a day.
It’s just one part of the Great Unraveling of Chicago’s justice system that stems from emboldened criminals, a demoralized police force and a leadership class obsessed with soft-on-crime legislation like the SAFE-T Act. Late amendments to the Act under consideration today in the final day of the fall veto session could lessen the damage somewhat but key flaws and a lawsuit challenging the Act will remain.
As will the onslaught of car thefts in Chicago so outlaws can perpetrate serious crimes. The sheer volume of vehicle thefts now in the city is striking. According to the city’s data portal, Chicago is on track to suffer 20,234 by year’s end. That would be 91 percent more than last year, more than double the last pre-Covid pre-George Floyd year of 2019, and far greater than any year since 2006.
Worse, the motor vehicle theft arrest rate projected for year-end based on data through November 21 is a stunningly low 2.5 percent. That’s lower than at any point in the last two decades. It’s no wonder the bad guys are emboldened. They face no consequences.
Rise of the “Kia Boys”
Starting in summer months, a new phenomenon spread nationally to major metro regions including Chicago. Crafty young car thieves, self-styled “Kia Boys,” learned – and shared on widely viewed videos – how to hack into and steal late-model Kia and Hyundai vehicles by activating the ignition with just a USB computer plug. This after breaking, entering and then stripping the steering column.
As crime website CWB Chicago reported, boosting a Kia or Hyundai leaves thieves a longer “shelf life” in which to use the stolen car compared to a carjacked vehicle which usually prompts quick notifications to police.
Other car thefts continue as well, many stemming from delivery drivers leaving their engines running while they briefly run into a building.
Stolen vehicles often taken for shootings, robberies, carjackings
Police say some cars are stolen for joy rides but in most cases the thefts are to facilitate serious crimes.
One Chicago cop told Wirepoints: “It’s not like 30 or 40 years ago where they’re selling the stolen car for quick cash or they’re chopping it up for parts. Most…are being stolen expressly to use in shootings or in robberies so they can get away. If police see a stolen car they’re not going to know who’s driving it and who it belongs to…and police can’t chase the stolen cars. Basically if they jump back in the car, they kind of get away scott free. Even if the car isn’t taken in a carjacking, even if it’s just stolen….it leads into these other higher-level crimes.”
The officer added, “they’re driving these cars and taking them back to go do shootings in neighborhoods where they live or hang out. Or they’re using them to do robberies, usually in nicer areas. If you catch these guys, they’ll tell you. They do robberies in nicer areas because they’re easier victims, they’re easier targets.”
Once again, Chicago’s black residents get the worst of it
Whether for shootings in the ‘hood or robberies in upscale climes, the car thefts are being committed most often in low-income minority neighborhoods of Chicago:
District 6 – Gresham with 1,377 or 8 percent of the citywide total.
District 2 – Wentworth with 1,315 or 7 percent of the citywide total.
District 3 – Grand Crossing with 1,277 or 7 percent of the citywide total.
District 4 – South Chicago with 1,249, or 7 percent of the citywide total.
District 12 – Near West with 1,096, or 6 percent of the citywide total.
Those five districts accounted for more than a third of all car thefts citywide. They are predominantly populated by black Chicagoans, with smatterings of Hispanic and white residents. They mainly lie on the city’s troubled South Side, though one straddles the city’s north-side divider.
The malfeasance continues
Cook County courts have put their characteristic stamp of misfeasance and ineptitude on Chicago’s growing vehicle theft problem.
As CWB Chicago reported, one Kia Boy taken into custody had been convicted in a weapons case but released on probation before leading police on a high speed chase that required a helicopter and ground units to track and arrest him. Another Kia Boy less than two months before his vehicle theft bust this week had been charged and released for felony unlawful use of a weapon. After the gun charge he had been slotted to attend a “restorative justice” court which may include case resolution in a “peace circle.”
Motor vehicle thefts – and the Kia Boys who perpetuate them – may be just one type of criminal activity in Chicago, but they are emblematic of a city increasingly sliding towards chaos.
Count on city and state leaders to completely ignore this data as they push full steam ahead on the SAFE-T Act.