CHICAGO - Carjackings and car thefts across Chicago and the suburbs have skyrocketed in 2020.
In the latest attempt, retired Chicago firefighter Dwain Williams was shot and killed by a group of young men who were trying to take his Jeep Grand Cherokee last week on the South Side. A $34,000 reward is being offered for information in his killing.
Other victims are now speaking out, telling FOX 32 their stories of terror.
“He had a gun, he started hitting the glass of my door and told me to get out of the f***ing car,” said victim Alexandra.
Her incident happened the day after thanksgiving in the Belmont Cragin neighorhood.
“He shoved a gun to my side and he said to get out,” said Q, who is another victim.
Q was driving for Lyft and got a request for a pickup on Chicago’s South Side.
“There was another kid that was the lookout, the second kid was getting in the car laughing,” he said.
In the Beverly neighborhood, surveillance video captured car theft victim Jessica’s Dodge Durango SRT being stolen right out of her driveway.
“Police told us they change the VIN and are using these cars as getaway cars because they are faster than your average police vehicle,” she said.
The thieves knew the alarm would not sound after breaking the back window. They eventually push it away and are able to get it started. But how?
On sites like Amazon, for less than $700, devices are being sold that allow thieves to hack into the computer system and have full access to start an array of vehicles. Some are easier to steal compared to others.
“Especially the Dodge Chargers,” said Harvey Police Chief Robert Collins. “There are devices out there that duplicate the key fob code. All they have to do is have that device be anywhere near the vehicle and they can take the vehicle.”
There are even groups on social media where Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep owners complain about their cars being easier to steal.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles responded with the following statement.
“FCA vehicles meet or exceed all applicable federal safety standards. While such events are rare, they are not exclusive to any make or model of vehicle. Further, FCA uses industry-standard technology. Notwithstanding, we urge all motorists to take due care in securing their vehicles.”
In some cases, thieves hide and drive the vehicles. In one instance, a stolen Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat worth more than $60,000 was found hidden behind an abandoned Chicago home.
Thieves print off phony VIN numbers to use and even go as far as getting the vehicle registered in their names with fake insurance.
Carjackings in Chicago have exploded this year. In 2019, there were 501. In 2020, there have been 1,125 -- more than double last year and there has been very few arrests.
Carjacking is a federal crime.
“The attempt is 15 years even if you didn’t get the vehicle. If you injure someone, that’s 25 years. If someone dies, you are looking at life in prison,” said Special Agent and Public Affairs Officer Siobhan Johnson.
Sometimes you are defenseless because they are armed and running in packs. But the best advice is the old saying, to be aware of your surroundings and give them what they want.
Here is what you can do: some owners remove the fuse for the fuel pump or the ASD Relay, preventing the car from starting. You can also buy a RIFD blocker wallet for your key fob, or wrap the key in lots of foil so thieves cannot get to the signal.