We can all agree that 2020 has been a crappy year. There’s too much to list but you lived through it so you already know. While it has negatively affected many aspects of life and living here’s another one we weren’t expecting. COVID-19 has staggeringly increased carjackings.
Just in November alone carjacking was up 537%
Take Minneapolis, for instance. The Star-Tribune reports that just in November alone carjacking was up 537% in and around the Twin Cities. That compares to 125 carjackings in October. And let’s be clear; the carjackings are getting violent.
In Chicago just this month a retired fire lieutenant was killed in a gunfight with three carjackers. So far Chicago is showing there were over 1,150 carjackings for 2020. That’s over twice the number in 2019 and the year isn’t over yet.
It is happening in other metropolitan areas as well. Car thefts are way up across the country as is general crime. “Preliminary data from 223 police agencies across the United States reveal steep increases this year in homicides and aggravated assaults,” according to the Police Executive Research Forum.
Masks are no longer a warning sign
So how does COVID-19 factor into the rise of all crime? First, masks are no longer a warning sign. They’re a welcome sign that the person wearing it has consideration for those around him. Unless they’re thieves. Masked jackers are finding it easier to commit crimes when their faces don’t show up on surveillance cameras.
Also, kids and teens are not in school. “80% of our carjackings and robberies are being done by juveniles, ages from 9 up to 17,” according to Minneapolis Police Commander Charlie Adams. He goes on to tell ABC News that after committing crimes they brag about it on social media.
But he’s got more tidbits. Adams says that due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission many juvenile detainees are being released. “Some of these have been involved in 10 or more robberies and they’re not being held,” he says. But it’s not all about Covid.
Since there have been many Police retiring there are fewer officers
Some of the spike in crime has to do with the George Floyd killing. Some of this is a reaction to it, especially shootings. Since there have been many Police retiring there are fewer officers. Those patrolling and covering the streets feel demoralized. And added to this are the police reforms many cities are looking at or have already instituted.
“We do know that oftentimes the carjackers are targeting people that may be distracted,” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told ABC. “You have the mother who’s taking her child out of a car seat. You have people that are unloading groceries, that sort of thing, where people’s hands are tied up. Keep your eyes open. Drive by where you are going to go. Take a look, see what’s happening. See if there’s anyone lurking.”
Elder has some advice for those looking to fend off potential carjackings. “But know what your limitations are, what your strengths are. Understand the value of what’s happening, and if somebody’s got a gun, is your life worth your car?”