As crime surges across the nation, one frightening trend stands out: carjacking by kids. Children as young as ten are stealing cars, and not just for joyriding. Robbery, assault, and even murder – mostly by the young – are on the rise. In Washington, D.C., for example, an average of one carjacking takes place every day. Is the pandemic to blame for this, or something else?
Christopher Herrmann, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, calls it “a disturbing trend.” He explained:
“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.”
In 2020, a group of children in Chicago carjacked more than a dozen people – and they weren’t alone. Here are just a handful of highlights of what happened last year:
- A 12-year-old was arrested in Washington, D.C., and charged with four counts of armed carjacking.
- Also in D.C., an Uber Eats driver died in a car crash after his assailants pulled a stun gun on him. The carjackers were two young girls, ages 13 and 15.
- Chicago: Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford’s car and valuables were taken at gunpoint.
- Chicago: A retired firefighter was shot and killed during a carjacking. Four suspects have been arrested, one of them a 15-year-old boy.
Chicago is the nation’s hotspot for this crime, where more than 1,800 carjackings were reported in 2021. In the Windy City, last year saw more incidents than the past two decades. Although carjackings had been declining since 2014, hitting a low of 303, they skyrocketed when the pandemic hit, reaching 1,400 in 2020.
According to the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, in 2020, only 11% of carjacking crimes resulted in arrests. In 2019, that number was 20%, and only 4.5% of those cases resulted in actual charges.
“It is lawless,” Alderman Raymond Lopez of Chicago’s 15th Ward said. “It doesn’t feel lawless. It is. It’s like the perfect storm, where all these soft on crime policies have come to a head during this pandemic.” He added, “When you have carjackers who are 15 on their third car, that’s a problem.”
The pandemic has definitely been a factor in the crime spike, but so has defunding and dismantling police departments in blue states. There aren’t enough officers to respond to calls, and kids are not being punished for their crimes, leading them to commit even worse offenses. As the former president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, once said, “the message has to be sent that if you commit a crime, there has to be punishment.”
The nation’s capital has seen more than 200 auto thefts just this month. In the past two years, the district had over 7,000 thefts. As for just carjackings in D.C., there were 37 between Jan. 1 and Jan. 20 – an average of one per day. The Metropolitan Police Department shared data with Axios that showed an 18% increase in this violent crime between 2020 and 2021 and an astonishing 153% increase from 2019 to 2020.
Although we’re only one month into 2022, so far, 49 adults and 100 juveniles in D.C. have been arrested for carjacking. In the entire year of 2020, by comparison, there were a total of 59 youths arrested for this offense.
Here are some more big city statistics:
- While Chicago has nearly tripled the number of carjackings in New York City, the Big Apple still reported more than 500 incidents. That is up from 328 in 2020 and 132 in 2019.
- In 2015, Philadelphia recorded about 170 carjackings. There were more than 800 last year.
- New Orleans more than doubled its numbers from 2018, when there were just 105 recorded carjackings compared to last year’s 281. As of Jan. 21, 39 have been reported.
In the report, “How the Pandemic is Accelerating Carjackings in Chicago,” the state crime lab found that most of these events occurred on the south and west sides, where gun violence is much higher than in other parts of the city. It also said the majority of victims were black or Hispanic.
The pandemic has caused anger, depression, fear, homelessness, loss of jobs, and a host of other issues. With inflation continuing to rise, people are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. The Democrats running many of the nation’s largest cities have chosen to defund their police departments, carjackers and other criminals are being released from jails and prisons earlier than expected – or not sent at all thanks to progressive reform bills – and now our cities are paying the price.
~ Read more from Kelli Ballard.