Philadelphia’s carjackings rise early in the new year

After approximately 750 carjackings in 2021, 2022 is outpacing last year just short of two weeks into the year

By: - January 15, 2022 6:30 am

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks in this undated photo (Image via The Philadelphia Tribune).

By Brian Saunders

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia has seen an increase in carjackings in the new year.

According to Deputy Police Commissioner Ben Naish, in 2022, there have been at least 90 carjackings. Of those, only seven have been arrested, and only four of them are still in custody.

Standing in front of the news media at the Philadelphia Police Headquarters, Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that the department will be deploying additional resources to investigate these incidents and prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.

“The PPD is utilizing targeted controls which include both uniformed and plainclothes officers. These officers are placed strategically throughout the city,” Outlaw said. “On the investigative end, we have a task force dedicated to investigating carjackings in the city in addition to our divisional detectives. Our Intelligence Bureau has also gathered information from multiple sources, participating in mutual exchanges of information with our law enforcement partners and aiding in identifying problem areas.”

Outlaw added that the police department needs the public’s help. She said to be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right, and keep your phone readily available to call 911.

After approximately 750 carjackings in 2021, 2022 is outpacing last year just short of two weeks into the year.

Last year the hotspot areas were in the 24th and 25th police districts.

“It jumped significantly in 2020 and continued to jump significantly more in 2021,” Naish said. “And unfortunately, as the commissioner made note, we’re seeing a big problem already this year, it’s getting a fair amount of media attention, and the numbers are above where they were at this point last year.”

Naish said carjackings have increased as the pandemic ravaged the city, citing an increase in delivery couriers such as Amazon or third-party food delivery services like DoorDash being victims.

There has also been a string of carjackings after drivers intentionally rear-ended victims and proceeded to rob them.

Sometimes these cars are stolen, and the offenders use that car to aid in other criminal activities such as the shootings that have taken so many lives throughout Philadelphia.

Naish said that many of these incidents are being done by juvenile offenders.

“We have over 60 juveniles that were arrested in 2021 for these carjacking incidents,” Naish said. “They are 15, 16 or 17. They will be initially charged as an adult, and then they will go through a hearing at juvenile court and see if they should remain in adult court to be certified as an adult or go back to the juvenile court. What we’ve been seeing is a lot of cases falling back into the juvenile court system.”

Naish said one of the juveniles arrested for an October carjacking was wearing an ankle monitor for a previous carjacking. He said he believes that some of these underage offenders who are receiving juvenile punishment have caused an uptick in more cases. Naish said the courts need to try these teens as adults.

“People have to maintain awareness of their surroundings as things are challenged right now at all times,” Naish said. “There’s not a magic bullet solution to make sure it can’t happen. Keep your doors locked. That’s important for people driving around sometimes.”

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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