Chicago aldermen believe it's time to get tougher on crime

There's been a recent surge in carjackings and armed robberies on Chicago’s North Side.

And now, FOX 32 has learned police are looking into the possibility they may be the work of a single crew.

There’s a new worry for students at DePaul University's Northside campus. Notices are posted alerting students to three armed robberies on or near campus in the space of a half-hour Wednesday night by a group of young men or teens wearing surgical masks driving a stolen SUV.

"They just sent us an email with an overview similar to a police report with all the different events,” said DePaul student Kristina Chura.

Now FOX 32 news has learned Chicago police are investigating whether the DePaul suspects are also responsible for an armed robbery earlier this week of a couple in Old Town, and several armed robberies in the Lakeview and Boystown neighborhoods.

A police source says their "leading theory" is that the crimes are connected because witnesses offer similar descriptions of the suspects. The details of the crimes are similar, and they're all using stolen or carjacked vehicles.

"Crime has to have consequences. And adding more police is simply not enough,” said Alderman Michele Smith.

Alderman Smith's 43rd Ward has seen a rising number of carjackings and armed robberies, including those at DePaul. She wonders whether it may have something to do with a series of recent criminal justice reforms.

"We need to look at and examine the recent changes that have been made in how to deal with juveniles and crime, setting bail, expunging records, what kind of cases are prosecuted,” she said.

Other aldermen are calling for tougher penalties for juveniles who steal cars or commit carjackings.

"It's catch and release with a lot of them. Literally within a week we hear discussion about two or three kids doing two or three carjackings a week. And in and out of the court system,” said Alderman Scott Waguespack.

A Chicago police source says detectives are working to link the Northside crimes to one group and hope to have more information next week. 

The SUV that was used in the DePaul robberies was found abandoned on the West Side.

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