D.C. is seeing a spike in carjackings as well a spike in juvenile suspects.
In March alone, five juveniles have been charged with carjacking. A 12-year-old boy is accused in a spree of incidents in Northeast. On Wednesday two girls, ages 13 and 15, were charged with murder after police say they carjacked an Uber Eats driver near Nats Park. Over the weekend, two 13-year-old boys were accused of multiple carjackings in Northwest.
"It’s troubling that you have people that young out here doing this," said Sgt. Robert Grims, who represents Montgomery County police on the regionwide carjacking task force the Metropolitan Police Department created last month.
“When you have the recession ... and then you have these young students that can’t go to school, that can’t do the extracurricular activities," Grims said.
According to MPD, there have been 101 carjackings so far this year compared to just 22 at this time last year. Last year, 60 juveniles were arrested for carjacking. In 2019, the number was 24.
"Some of these incidents seem spontaneous, but there is a story behind them,” said activist Jay Brown of Community Shoulders. “If there’s a story behind these incidents, then they can be prevented."
Last summer, Brown’s daughter crashed her car after she was carjacked at knifepoint.
He said reversing this alarming trend means addressing the root causes of the problem, which have only been made worse by the pandemic.
"The COVID-19 epidemic that has led to even more poverty in our community and even more desperation, and we have a lot of juveniles that are isolated … You know, a lot of these young people that are out here right now, they were living with their grandparents. Their grandparents died,” Brown said. “Who do they go to? Where do they go?"
Engaging teens in face-to-face conversations is a crucial part of trying to fix the problem and save lives, Brown said.
"The only way that we’re going to find out what’s going on is if we engage each other, we listen to each other and we walk with each other," he said.
After a violent March, he said it’s time to start talking and listening.