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Today’s must-read

Thursday, May 25, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m probably excerpting way too much from Patrick Smith’s WBEZ story, so I apologize in advance. However, it’s really interesting

Two years after the creation of a specialized carjacking task force, numbers from the Cook County sheriff’s office show law enforcement agencies in and around Chicago are recovering nearly 9 out of every 10 carjacked vehicles. That is a huge increase from 2020 and sheriff Tom Dart says authorities are learning more about who is doing the carjacking and why.

Meanwhile, data from the sheriff also show the number of carjacking incidents is trending downward. […]

The regional carjacking task force was formed in March 2021 in response to a dramatic increase in hijackings during the pandemic. Data from the city of Chicago show the number of vehicular hijacking victimizations leapt up from 736 in 2019 to 1,684 in 2020. The number got even higher in 2021 before starting to recede last year. […]

Roe Conn, a former radio host and a sheriff’s employee, leads the team from an upscale office with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Chicago’s iconic Holy Name Cathedral. There, Conn’s unit analyzes carjacking data to “try to put together living models for how, when, where and, in some cases, why these crimes are being committed.” […]

The result, according to numbers provided by the sheriff, has been an increase in recovered vehicles, up from about 40% of carjacked cars recovered in 2020 to close to 90% in 2022. The length of time between when cars are stolen and when they are recovered has also been dropping, going from eight days recovery time in 2020 to a little more than four days recovery time last year. […]

In March 2021, shortly after the task force was formed, then-Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that most of the hijackings were being done by kids seeking quick, cheap thrills. […]

Then, last year, University of Chicago professor Robert Vargas published a study looking at car recoveries by Chicago police between 2017 and 2021, and found the data indicated it was not capricious kids robbing people of their cars for fun, but rather sophisticated criminals with a profit motive. Vargas hypothesized the cars were most likely being sold on the black market, either whole or in parts.

Dart said the increase in vehicles recovered and the information sharing through the task force has helped them learn more about the people behind the carjackings … and Dart believes it’s proven both Brown and Vargas wrong.

If the cars were being resold then authorities wouldn’t be recovering so many after just a few days, and so close to where they were originally stolen.

And Dart said many of the people being arrested for carjacking are juveniles, but they’re not out stealing cars so they can “joyride” as Brown said.

There’s lots more, so go read the rest.


  1. - B-Lou - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 9:29 am:

    Any connection between decrease in carjackings and increase in Hyundai and Kia thefts?

  2. - Homebody - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 9:38 am:

    I appreciate that law enforcement is actually trying to use data to do their job better. But next we need policy makers to do the same thing when trying to address root causes of crime.

  3. - Almost the Weekend - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 9:43 am:

    This needs to be done for shootings, there’s plenty of data to compile just like car jackings, to identity hot spots and take proactive measures.

  4. - ChicagoBars - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 9:54 am:

    – Almost the Weekend -

    You can’t spend much time with any CPD brass without hearing about their district level Strategic Decision Support Centers” which are supposedly heavy on data analysis. How data driven they really are and how effective they’ve been is above my pay grade but here’s a long Rand report on them…

  5. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 9:59 am:

    More of this, please. In statistics classes, we were told “In the social sciences the data is usually crappy!” (Actually, used one of George Carlin’s “words” … .) Better data, less “Government by anecdote” …

  6. - low level - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 10:09 am:

    Roe Conn’s years of experience as a WLS talk show host really was the perfect background for this I guess /s.

  7. - Torco Sign - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 10:27 am:

    Who buys the cars/car parts on the black market?

  8. - Chicagonk - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 10:33 am:

    There is an important lesson here for journalists, media, and politicians - The analysis coming out of the UChicago Justice Project should be scrutinized because when I dug into the “report” that they did, they relied on one FOIA to the CPD for the carjacking recovery rates and then hypothesized that since the recovery rate according to CPD was only 20%, most of these cars were ending up in chop shops.

  9. - JoanP - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 10:51 am:

    =It’s very, very childish to try to take, you know, all the credit for it =

    Whoa. An elected official not taking all the credit for something? That explains the pig flying past my window.

  10. - ArchPundit - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 11:24 am:

    === How data driven they really are and how effective they’ve been is above my pay grade but here’s a long Rand report on them…

    The challenge is in how you respond to the data. Far too many cities started using CompStat etc and measured performance by arrests or enforcement over reduction in crime which results in more arrest, more enforcement, and often no difference in crime. How Chicago is using it now should be analyzed more for how well it does in utilizing the data to reduce crime and not how hard enforcement is coming. Unfortunately, PDs have long seen everything as a nail and enforcement as the hammer instead of proactive policing and non-enforcement interventions (and enforcement when appropriate, but why not have presence that reduces the need to enforce in the first place)

  11. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 11:48 am:

    What I have been wondering is if the increase in carjacking is related to the anti-theft measures now found in most cars. It’s been reported that Hyundai and Kia theft rates are high because they lack those anti-theft devices. When a car does have those measures, the thief needs the keys which are usually available only when the driver is in the car resulting in carjacking rather than simple theft. Just a hypothesis; someone should investigate.

  12. - workingfromhome - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 12:00 pm:

    Roe Conn works for the sheriff’s dept??

  13. - cermak_rd - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 12:05 pm:

    I am curious how Roe Conn got to be a part of this. But I see he was hired in 2021 as a project director. It looks like Cook County has hired media personalities before like Shereen Mohammad. Could be media personnel develop skillsets that are beneficial. Certainly someone like Conn after 25 years in radio and several heading his own show is going to have organizing skills. Mohammad’s new gig was media relations which is a pretty good fit.

  14. - Amalia - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 12:26 pm:

    back to the finds, very interesting work. hope it helps more in preventing crimes and apprehending offenders. these kinds of crimes terrify even if a person is not wounded or worse. appreciate the effort to analyze.

  15. - Cool Papa Bell - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 12:47 pm:

    I wonder if Roe still rolls out the Canarble Wagon on Fridays?

    =He said carjackings are mostly being carried out by organized crews with pre-planning and sophistication. He said the crews almost always include young people because they face less serious criminal penalties if they get caught.

    “This notion that somehow it was this very chaotic, disorganized operation couldn’t be any further from the truth,” Dart said. “Do you get these carjackings of opportunity? I guess, yeah, you get those. But most of these were very, very well-organized groups.”=

    Seems much like the shop lifting activity in Chicago and ‘Burbs these are often organized operations focused on profit.

  16. - Skeptic - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 1:10 pm:

    “Who buys the cars/car parts on the black market?” Are you 100% certain where your mechanic gets his/hers?

  17. - Give Us Barabbas - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 1:16 pm:

    Canarble Wagon recovery rate of 100 percent. Gold Coast-adjacent office, not too shabby either. But he seems to be doing a good job, so kidding aside, congrats to Roe.

  18. - ArchPundit - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 2:25 pm:

    ===Who buys the cars/car parts on the black market?

    Ebay, foreign markets just to start.

  19. - This - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 4:22 pm:

    Kudos to Tom Dart for data-driven analyses. His innovative leadership is in demand in Cook County.

  20. - Occasionally Moderated - Thursday, May 25, 23 @ 7:02 pm:

    Well done, Sheriff! And well done Roe! I miss that guy so much on the radio but I think from what I hear he has found a way to do a different kind of good in the world.

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