Emanuel mounts cameras on booter vans to curb carjacking epidemic
Carjacking has quickly become an epidemic in Chicago. Nearly 1000 carjackings were reported throughout the city last year – compared to 663 in 2016. The Chicago Police Department unveiled new efforts this week to aid in the prevention of carjackings and the locating of stolen vehicles.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new strategy Thursday that the city will be implementing as a part of these efforts. This new strategy involves the use of License Plate Recognition (LPR) Technology on the city trucks that place boots on vehicles with outstanding parking tickets or other violations. The Department of Finance booter vans will have LPR cameras mounted on both sides. The cameras can capture up to 3200 license plates per van per shift and this information is fed to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications databases. This technology helps officers to quickly identify stolen cars, return them to their owners, and apprehend the offenders.
“By harnessing an existing city process, we are able to more quickly identify stolen vehicles on the streets throughout Chicago, returning them to their owners and preventing these vehicles from being involved in other violent crimes,” said Mayor Emanuel. While the city just disclosed this information Thursday, the LPR technology has been quietly utilized on 26 booter vans over the past few months. According to City Hall, over 190 hits from stolen vehicles have been identified and reported to the CPD since March. According to the Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, with the booter cameras acting as additional “eyes” on the ground, the police hope to use this data as a tool to expedite the efforts in apprehending and prosecuting car thieves and other violent offenders.
Dozens of juvenile offenders were charged with carjacking in recent months, but few were detained longer than 24 hours leading to several repeat offenders. Along with the efforts to prevent these carjackings, the City and CPD have also proposed a new legislation earlier this week that will hold those caught driving stolen vehicles responsible.
Just last week, 23-year-old Earrious Moore attempted to carjack an 84-year-old man. The man was shot and grazed by a bullet as Moore attempted to steal the man’s Mercedes. Federal prosecutors filed charges against Moore and upon conviction the offender is potentially facing 25 years in prison.
Coinciding with the changes to technology and legislation, in an effort to prevent and solve carjackings faster, the city has created a multi-agency task force that involves Chicago Police Department along with both state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors.