By Brian Marchetti
The Beverly/Morgan Park community suffered a shock in November when the Pettiford family in North Beverly fell victim to both an armed carjacking and an auto theft in a two-week period. Although the perpetrators were quickly arrested, the incidents created a sense of unease throughout the neighborhood.
According to the latest crime statistics, the 22nd District has seen a decrease in carjacking incidents over the last several years. In 2021, 66 incidents were reported compared to 39 in 2023.
“We have seen a decrease of 41 percent in carjackings from this year to last in the 22nd District,” said Brian Kinnane, Commander of the 22nd Police District. “Obviously, that doesn’t resonate with the residents of 93rd and Pleasant.”
While the numbers indicate that Beverly/Morgan Park remains a relatively safe neighborhood, recent events prove that criminals can strike anywhere. To lessen the chances that you may fall victim to one of these crimes or if you happen to find yourself in the middle of an active carjacking, here are some tips to help ensure your safety.
“Keep your windows up and your doors locked,” Commander Kinnane said. “Watch out for cars following you. Don’t let yourself get boxed in by pulling up too close to the car in front of you. Always give yourself room to get away.”
Carjackers may rear end you to get you out of the car. If you suspect this is the case, call 911 and drive to the nearest police station.
“One of the big things is location,” Commander Kinnane said. “Be careful in driveways, when unloading packages from your cars, in parking lots, coming in and out of an alley, pulling up to an ATM. Keep an eye out for suspicious behavior so you don’t end up being surprised.”
Commander Kinnane also advises motorists to keep their anti-theft and GPS devices activated on their cars. This helps police in the pursuit and recovery of stolen vehicles. Of the 39 vehicles stolen in the 22nd District, 37 have been recovered.
If you find yourself in a carjacking situation, Commander Kinnane says to give up the car.
“The vehicle is replaceable. The victim is not,” he said. “Try to avoid any confrontation, whether it be physical or verbal. Also, try to remember as many details about the assailants as possible.”
In the event that you happen to have a child with you during an attempted carjacking, make that known to the assailants. According to Commander Kinnane, there have been incidents where the attackers have fled, or they abandon the vehicle.
As a community, we can help keep our neighborhood safe by staying alert and reporting any suspicious activity to the police by calling 911.
“If you see something out of place, if you see something that gives you that feeling, make that call to 911,” Kinnane said. “Let the police arrive on scene. If it’s something innocent, let the police decide.”
In other words, watch out for yourself and for each other. Be safe everyone.