An armed teenaged carjacker took a BMW in Washington, D.C., in January from Tariq Majeed, who was cleaning it in an alley for client using his car-detailing business. Police quickly found the BMW, which had been shut off remotely by an anti-theft system and left behind. There had been another carjacking nearby. “I honestly believe it’s a game,” Majeed told the New York Times. Stolen cars used to be stripped down, with the parts sold for cash. Now people are carjacked, and the cars are often found afterward, crashed or just left on the street. In the past two pandemic years, as different kinds of crime have spiked and plummeted, carjacking has made alarming resurgence.
The number of incidents nearly quadrupled in Philadelphia from 2019 to 2021 and is on track to double this year; Chicago had more than 1,900 carjackings last year, the highest total in decades. Two months into 2022 the number of armed carjackings in New Orleans was already at two-thirds the 2019 tally. Washington, D.C., had 426 carjackings reported last year. There are reasons carjacking may have begun proliferating even as robbery rates dropped in 2020/ Push-button ignitions have made it harder to operate cars without getting the keys from the driver; supply chain problems boosted the price of used cars. and the pandemic ushered in an army of delivery workers, often working in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Ride-share drivers have been summoned and robbed on arrival. The most troubling part of the trend is the ages of so many who have been arrested. Fourteen-year-olds, 12-year-olds, even 11-year-olds have been charged with armed carjacking or in some cases murder.