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Underage ‘joyride’ carjackings represent rising challenge for DC-area law enforcement

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

An increase in underage carjackings represents a challenge for law enforcement officials in and around Washington, D.C.

More than 1,500 motor vehicle thefts were reported in Washington, D.C., as of June 23, up 30% from the nearly 1,200 recorded in all of 2020, according to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

“With regards to trends in carjackings, we have noticed that a large number of these crimes are committed by young teenagers (13 – 16-year-olds) and the vehicles are often used to commit other crimes such as robberies and shootings,” an MPD spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation Wednesday.

A 15-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl were arrested and charged with armed carjacking and murder after they tased Uber Eats driver Mohammad Anwar, 66, in an attempt to steal his car in Washington, D.C., Fox News reported May 11. Anwar’s vehicle crashed and rolled, ejecting and killing him.

“With the prevalence of more delivery drivers on the road due to the pandemic, this provides more opportunities for them to become victims of carjackings,” the MPD spokesperson told the DCNF. 

The MPD formed a task force of detectives to focus on carjacking offenses in February after a nationwide increase in related crimes, according to the department. The task force partnered with Washington FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offices, and the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Police Departments.

“The carjacking task force also utilizes resources from local jurisdictions such as Montgomery County and PG County as well as federal law enforcement to pool resources and analyze the current carjacking cases,” the MPD spokesperson told the DCNF. “This helps our detectives with recognizing trends and suspects who are committing multiple carjackings.”

“With all the awareness and media coverage around these types of crimes, we are hopeful that the carjacking task force is making an impact and that we will start to see changes in our communities,” the MPD spokesperson added.

At least 13 reported carjackings occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland, this year, according to the police department’s press releases.

The Montgomery County Police Department said there have been an “unprecedented” number of carjackings in 2021, Fox 5 reported. The department recorded 20 carjackings in 2019, 36 instances in 2020 and 28 during the first six months of 2021.

“The word unprecedented gets used a lot, but it really is an unprecedented time for us,” Montgomery County Police Department Assistant Police Chief Dinesh Patil said, according to Fox 5.

A majority of the carjackings in Montgomery County were committed by individuals younger than 16, according to Fox 5. Incidents of auto theft targeting delivery drivers who leave their cars started as they’re picking up and dropping items off are also increasing in the area.

“Cars that are taken and used in other crimes almost immediately,” Patil said, Fox 5 reported. “Sometimes dumped almost immediately which tells us again that it’s opportunistic. These are not cars that are being taken, stripped for parts or shipped overseas.”

The Montgomery County Police Department did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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