CHICAGO (NewsNation) — A pastor gunned down in a carjacking outside her home in Memphis. A thief runs up a driveway with a weapon drawn in New Orleans. An Atlanta mother of three, tossed out of her car and run over with it — all captured on her own Ring camera.
Carjacking trends can be tough to track, as they sometimes get mixed in with other crime statistics such as auto theft, which increased by more than 16% in 2021. But over the last two years, there has been a noticeable uptick in carjackings nationwide.
Over the last few days, high-profile incidents such as the aforementioned are calling attention to something perhaps more alarming than the frequency — the nature of the acts themselves: in public, in broad daylight, in the driveway of one’s own home.
“She’s still in shock. Still processing everything that’s been going on,” said Michael Hill, husband of a carjacking victim. “We were looking to move anyway, I think this may just accelerate our plans,” he continued.
Police departments nationwide are reporting an increase in carjackings, as well.
Chicago — a city with 40 cops on a carjacking task force —had more than 1,900 last year. That number is the most in the country and the most in the Windy City in decades.
Additionally, there have been more than 700 in Philadelphia already in 2022, which is on pace to easily surpass last year’s total of 847. Police have made more than 200 related arrests.
And some of the perpetrators are shockingly young.
The pastor killed in Memphis was shot by a 15-year-old. In D.C, a 14-year-old was arrested for jacking six vehicles and trying to take a seventh.
U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) is pushing for federal action and hopes to establish a national auto theft task force.
What’s behind this surge in carjackings? Chicago police place some of the blame on young people seeking joyrides or using cars to commit other crimes, then leaving them wrecked or abandoned.
But a study this spring showed those same police have recovered fewer than one in five vehicles over the last five years, suggesting larger operations in play, as many stolen vehicles end up shipped to other countries through ports in New Jersey and New York.