Giannoulias Announces New Funding to Prevent Carjackings, Reveals Story of His Own

For Alexi Giannoulias, news of carjackings hit close to home.

Illinois’ Secretary of State was a senior in high school when he and a group of classmates found themselves being robbed of their vehicle at gunpoint on Chicago’s West Side.

“It was a horrendously scary experience,” Giannoulias said. “I think that has stayed with me and my friends who were in the vehicle that day.”

Now the Secretary of State’s office is awarding $21 million dollars to Chicago police and five other law enforcement groups in an effort to crack down on carjackings and auto theft in Illinois.

“The bottom line is that people shouldn’t have to fear they will be robbed of their vehicle at gunpoint when they get into their car each day,” he said.

Along with Chicago’s Major Auto Theft Investigations group, the money will also be split among the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force, the Greater Peoria Auto Crimes Task Force, the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force, the Illinois Statewide Auto Theft Task Force and the Expressway Safety Enforcement Group. The latter agency will get the bulk of the funding at $10.26 million.

Much of the money will be spent on automated license plate readers to identify stolen or carjacked vehicles, new K-9 officers to help with arrests and replacement airplanes for the Illinois State Police to track carjacked vehicles from the sky. The ISP will also buy three trailers equipped with plate reading equipment to help smaller departments who can’t afford their own.

“This license plate reader technology is a game changer because it helps us find witnesses,” said Brendan Kelly, the director of the ISP. “Maybe they didn’t even know what they saw, but we can get in there and see where a crime occurred and see what the individual license plates are, reach out to them, call them and ask, ‘What did you see.’”

Kelly said it’s important for the public to know that law enforcement has the technology to crack down on carjackers, but it’s more important for the potential carjackers to know it exists.

“We want people to know license plate readers are out there, we are going to find you,” he said.

In the last 10 years, carjackings in Chicago have skyrocketed, with more than 1,600 reported last year, up from 487 in 2012.

But CPD says the numbers are now trending down.

“That’s why this investment is so important: it recognizes that vehicle related thefts are a matter of public safety in every community,” said Antoinette Ursitti, CPD’s new chief of detectives.

The $21 million comes from a new fund paid for through Illinois auto insurance premiums. For Giannoulias, it is money well spent.

“Having three daughters of my own, the thought of that happening and my kids lives being at stake is something that scares me,” he said.

Region: Chicago,Local,City: Chicago

via Local – NBC Chicago

March 23, 2023 at 05:02PM

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