Washington DC

Turning a corner? DC sees drop in carjackings

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There have been far less carjackings in Washington, D.C., so far this year compared to this time last year, new statistics show.

Carjackings became a major problem in the District over the past few years, increasing steadily since 2018, when there were 148, to 959 total carjackings in 2023.

"One, the surge was being fueled by juveniles, and, of the adults, many were under the age of 25. Two, in many carjackings, there appeared to be no greater purpose than joyriding. In fact, cars were often found quickly abandoned not far from where they were carjacked. Three, while fewer in number, there were some carjackings where the cars were taken with an eye toward selling them or using them to commit another crime. And four, it seemed to be that a relatively small group of individuals was really driving this trend," U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said.

This year, however, might be a turning point. There have been 258 carjackings in D.C. this year, according to police data, which is a 46% decline from the 477 carjackings in the District this time last year.

An increased focus on carjackings among police and prosecutors has helped reduce the violent crimes, according to Graves.

"With respect to carjackings, an important step in the process was the Metropolitan Police Department in 2021 announcing a carjacking task force: a team of detectives focused exclusively on carjackings and related crimes," Graves said.

Prosecuting some juveniles as adults and lengthy prison sentences have has also sent a message to teens, he said.

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"First, anyone telling our youth that carjacking is not a big deal and that carjacked vehicles are free cars are lying to them. Our office's prosecutions from the last year alone establishing that carjacking doesn't give you a free car, it gives you a fast pass to jail," Graves said.

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