By: Almerah Alkhatib, Loyola Senior; PJ McMahon, Loyola Sophomore; Audrey Patterson, Loyola Sophomore
A string of carjackings has raised questions about safety in the Rogers Park area.
Two incidents have occurred in the month of March alone, including the carjacking that caused the death of 46-year-old Uber driver Javier Ramos. Questions are being raised about why the rates of carjackings have increased, as well as what people can do to stay safe. RogersEdge Reporters sat down with the Alderwoman of the 49th Ward, Maria Hadden, to talk about the recent incidents.
Alderwoman Hadden presides over the 49th Ward of Chicago which mostly includes Rogers Park and parts of West Ridge. Hadden won the election to that office in 2019.
Community safety is very important for Alderwoman Hadden. Hadden discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on crime. She said, “People haven’t had other things to do, and a lot of the social structures and routines and cultural things that kind of keep us responsible to one another that helps to hold us in place from not breaking a ton of laws and harming folks.”
Carjackings aren’t the only crime to increase in the wake of the pandemic. In some cities, including Chicago, homicides have risen by nearly 50%, and Chicago PD is answering up to 18% more domestic violence calls.
For Alderwoman Hadden, the connection is clear; she said, “In general what we’ve seen is an uptake in lawless behavior. I can say that the pandemic is closing down so many things, whether it be businesses or schools, what it has done is really disrupt our social structure.”
A dominating motive for carjackers has been joyriding, a result of underlying feelings of restlessness and helplessness experienced by many during the pandemic. The pandemic has also provided more opportunities for carjacking to occur.
Alderwoman Hadden suggested that “one of the factors that has provided more opportunities [for carjacking], is there are fewer people around. People are going to commercial areas where there are higher concentrations of people with money and nicer vehicles, which are more desirable targets for theft or robbery. And there are fewer people since we are in a global pandemic and I do think that presents a lot more opportunity.”
While opportunities have increased due to the pandemic, carjackings do occur regularly in large cities. Despite this, there are some measures the community can take to reduce their risk of being a carjacking victim.
“Be aware of your routines and changing routines around you,” Alderwoman Hadden said. “All that being said, it is important to remember that even while following all the guidelines and being safe, sometimes you may still be a victim of a crime and it is not your fault.”
For more information visit the 49th Ward at their website https://www.49thward.org/