In recent years, auto thefts and carjackings have become ordinary events in the streets of Chicago, often occurring in the middle of the day and sometimes being live-streamed on social media as they occur.
Last year, Chicago reported more than 21,000 vehicle thefts. In 2021, the number was “only” 14,000.
Unfortunately, things are getting much worse. As of this writing, Chicago has experienced more than 20,000 vehicle thefts, with nearly four months before the year ends.
But worry not, my fellow Chicagoans, Mayor Brandon Johnson has a plan that is sure to solve the problem: He is suing two automakers, Kia and Hyundai, because the cars they make are just too easy to steal.
According to Johnson, “The failure of Kia and Hyundai to install basic auto-theft prevention technology in these models is sheer negligence, and as a result, a citywide and nationwide crime spree around automobile theft has been unfolding right before our eyes.”
In other words, in Johnson’s view, the criminals who are stealing cars are blameless. In fact, they are victims.
As Fred Waller, interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), put it, “As law enforcement, we are doing everything we can to prevent these thefts, but these vehicle companies must also be held accountable.”
Of course, blaming the auto manufacturers is easy. However, what is difficult is addressing the root cause behind the spike in car thefts.
As reports indicate, most of the car thieves are juveniles who receive slaps on the wrist for these crimes. Many of these juveniles are stealing cars for street gangs, who proceed to use the stolen vehicles to commit other crimes.
So, why are so many young boys in Chicago affiliating with gangs at such a young age and putting their futures in jeopardy? Because they lack a fatherly figure to teach them right from wrong, to instill discipline and respect for authority, and to serve as a role model.
Like far too many cities, Chicago is facing an epidemic of fatherlessness. In 2020, the rate of overall out-of-wedlock births in Chicago reached 46 percent. Sadly, the problem is particularly dreadful among the city’s black and Hispanic populations, wherein 82 percent and 57 percent of all births occurred to unwed mothers, respectively.
Commonsense and mountains of data tell us that boys growing up without a father at home are far more likely to commit crimes, drop out of school, join a gang, and end up in prison.
As the U.S. Department of Justice notes:
The most reliable indicator of violent crime in a community is the proportion of fatherless families. Fathers typically offer economic stability, a role model for boys, greater household security, and reduced stress for mothers. This is especially true for families with adolescent boys, the most crime-prone cohort. Children from single-parent families are more prone than children from two-parent families to use drugs, be gang members, be expelled from school, be committed to reform institutions, and become juvenile murderers. Single parenthood inevitably reduces the amount of time a child has in interaction with someone who is attentive to the child’s needs, including the provision of moral guidance and discipline.
Ironically, Mayor Brandon Johnson is a rarity in his own city. He is a devoted father to three children who has been married to his wife, Stacie, since 1998. Johnson should use his soapbox as mayor to preach about how vital fatherhood is to the health and well-being of his constituents instead of blaming car makers for the steep rise in car thefts, which has much more to do with absent fathers than anything else.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is editorial director at The Heartland Institute.