'It's a disturbing trend.' Cities see large increases in carjackings during pandemic
Updated 3:01 AM ET, Sun January 23, 2022
(CNN)Carjackings have risen dramatically over the past two years in some of America's biggest cities.
Just outside Chicago, a state senator's car and other valuables were taken at gunpoint in December, and a group of children, one just 10 years old, carjacked more than a dozen people. A rideshare driver being carjacked shot his attackers earlier this month in Philadelphia. Last March, a 12-year-old in Washington, DC was arrested and charged with four counts of armed carjacking.
"The majority of it is young joyriders. They're not keeping the cars. They're jacking cars to commit another crime, typically more serious robberies or shootings, or joyriding around for the sake of social media purpose and street cred," said Christopher Herrmann, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "It's a disturbing trend."
Comprehensive national data isn't available because the FBI's crime reporting system doesn't track carjackings. But large cities that track the crime reported increases in 2020 and 2021, especially as the pandemic took hold of the country.
- The number of carjackings quadrupled in New York City over the last four years, according to data released by the NYPD. The city recorded more than 500 carjackings in 2021, up from 328 in 2020, 132 in 2019, and 112 in 2018.
- Carjackings in Philadelphia nearly quadrupled between 2015 and 2021, according to figures released by the city's police department. They recorded more than 800 last year, up from about 170 in 2015.
- In New Orleans, there were 281 carjackings last year, up from 105 in 2018, the earliest year of available data. The city has also seen a string of carjackings this year, with NOPD reporting 39 as of January 21.
- More than 1,800 carjackings were reported in Chicago last year, the most of any large city, according to data released by police departments to CNN. Chicago's 2021 tally was the most on record over the last 20 years. Carjackings had been steadily declining in the city after 2001, hitting a low of 303 in 2014, but began to tick upward before skyrocketing to 1,400 in 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. Last year saw more than five times as many carjackings as in 2014.
'We recognize the fear and uncertainty'
"It is lawless," said Raymond Lopez, an alderman for Chicago's 15th Ward. "It doesn't feel lawless. It is."