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John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171
jtownsend@aaamidatlantic.com

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, July 31, 2018) ––Tragically, 15 persons were killed during violent carjacking crimes in Maryland in the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, including seven victims of violent carjackings in the state in 2016 alone. The tragic figures are detailed in the latest Maryland Uniform Crime Report from the Maryland State Police. One of the murdered victims was a 68-year-old grandfather gunned down by a masked carjacker while filling up his car at a Maryland gas station in 2016. In addition, 533 persons were injured when carjackers pounced upon them in Maryland during the five-year period. That unfortunate tally includes 63 persons who sustained serious injuries during carjacking crimes, and 470 persons who were slightly injured, when their vehicles were stolen by force, across the state of Maryland from 2012 to 2016.

 

What is more, nearly 70 percent of carjackings are at gunpoint in Maryland, which witnessed a 23 percent jump in carjackings from 2015 to 2016, cautions the Maryland Department of State Police. The brazen act was made a federal crime by Congress decades ago. All told, in the five- year period from 2012 to 2016, a total of 2,321 carjackings occurred across the state. That tally includes 644 carjackings in Maryland in 2016, the highest total number of carjacking offenses in the five-year period. In comparison, Maryland experienced more than 800 carjackings in 2007 and a similar number of carjacking crimes in 2008. By 2013, the total number of carjackings, the violent stealing of an occupied car, plummeted to 330, the lowest number in the annals from 2007 to 2016, notes the Crime in Maryland report submitted to the Governor’s Office in May.

 

In most carjacking cases across the nation, or nine times out of ten, the intended quarry is alone (92 percent) when the attack occurs,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “In seven out of ten carjacking incidents, the hapless and helpless victim is confronted unawares by a furtive perpetrator balefully wielding a weapon, including firearms, knives, and other weapons. Carjacking is a crime of opportunity - a thief, with bad intentions, searching for the most vulnerable prey.”

 

 

                                         Injuries Sustained in Carjacking Crimes in Maryland

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Homicide

1

1

2

4

7

Serious

10

8

11

11

23

Slight

93

76

79

84

138

        

Carjackings can result in the “theft of life,” as it did seven times in 2016 alone.  In May 2016, two men were shot by a 62-year-old suspect while attempting to rescue a carjacking victim in a shopping center in Bethesda, Maryland. Subsequently, one of the men died from his wounds. Alarmingly, the number of carjacking crimes involving the use of a handgun in recent years increased 123 percent in Maryland from 190 reported cases of armed carjackings in 2013 to 423 reported cases in 2016, according to crime statistics from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP). That year alone, firearms, including handguns, rifles and unknown firearms, were used in 427 carjackings, as armed offenders swooped down on motorists and forced them to surrender their vehicles against their will and under the threat of bodily harm.


Of the 644 reported carjackings in Maryland 2016, the ill-starred victims were threatened with firearms in 66 percent of the offenses. Armed carjackings strike existential fear in the hearts of most motorists. The Superintendent of the Maryland Department of State Police, Colonel William M. Pallozzi submitted the 2016 Uniform Crime Report, Crime in Maryland, to Governor Larry Hogan on May 15, 2018.


                                                            Carjackings by Jurisdiction

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

5-Year Average

Maryland

473

330

350

524

644

465

Prince Geo.

183

110

105

137

102

127

Montgomery

10

14

5

11

17

11

           

Remarkably, reported carjacking crimes in the Maryland dropped approximately 59 percent from 2007 to 2013, as the state experienced approximately 500 fewer police-reported crimes of carjackings than it had seven years earlier, according to metadata from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP). Sadly, the trend was reversed the following year through 2016, as the number of carjackings jumped 101 percent in the period from 330 carjackings in 2013 to 644 carjacking incidents in 2016.

 

Carjacking - stealing a car by force - is still considered a “big city crime,” such as in places like Chicago, where a year ago carjackings soared to the highest level in ten years. Unfortunately, carjackers crop up in suburban enclaves too. Prince George’s County witnessed a total of 637 carjackings in the period from 2012 to 2016, or an average of 127 carjackings annually, the 42nd annual Crime in Maryland report shows. Over the selfsame period of time, Montgomery County was the scene of 57 carjackings, including an armed robbery and carjacking at a Silver Spring gas station in December 2016, for a yearly average of 11 carjackings.

 

What is more, Maryland’s biggest city, Baltimore, witnessed 1,145 carjacking crimes in the period from 2012 to 2016, according to the 2016 Uniform Crime Report. Over this span of time, Baltimore City averaged 229 carjackings per year, the highest tally for any jurisdiction in the entire state. It is eclipsed by the number of carjackings in Chicago in 2016, “682.” Baltimore County was the venue of 263 crimes of carjackings from 2012 to 2016, with an average of 53 carjackings yearly during the five-year period.

 

“Some researchers and criminologists believe the surge in carjacking crimes is fueled by acts of desperation by thieves who find it easier, ironically, to take a car by force than coping with more and more sophisticated anti-theft devices and options and the deployment of immobilization devices, smart keys, tracking devices, or kill switches on late model vehicles,” said Townsend. “At gunpoint, by force, by the threat of violence or by intimidation, the victims relinquished their vehicles to criminals threatening to cause death or serious bodily harm. In some cases, the shoe is on the other foot. The intended victims fight back. But fighting back, resisting or attempting to flee may place you in greater danger, area law enforcement officials warn.”

 

Two teenagers were arrested in December 2016 in connection with a carjacking and homicide. A passerby spotted the body of the motorist near a recreation center. The corpse had severe burns.  A criminal offense involving “moral turpitude,” carjacking is also a federal crime as a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. In Maryland, carjacking is deemed “an extremely dangerous crime,” and as such, the crime of carjacking is codified as a felony under Maryland criminal law. If a death results from a carjacking in Maryland, “the accused can face the death penalty in federal court,” criminal lawyers warn.

 

Across the nation, “a weapon was used in 74% of carjacking victimizations,” notes the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Historically, “firearms were used in 45% of carjackings, knives in 11% and other weapons in 18%.” Yet nationally most carjacking victims escaped without injury. That is also the case in the state of Maryland.  During 2016, there were 695 victims of special kind of thieves, carjackers, reported in Maryland, and, of course, “there can be multiple victims in any (carjacking) occurrence,” explain analysts with the Maryland Statistical Analysis Center (MSAC). There can also be multiple suspects in a carjacking, as experience teaches. For example, six suspects, five adults and one juvenile female, were arrested in Washington’s inner Maryland suburbs in connection with an armed carjacking and robbery in March 2013.

 

“By gender, the 695 victims of carjackings were made up of 68 percent male and 32 percent female,” MSAC researchers and analysts explain. In contrast, 95 percent of the perpetrators of carjackings were male and “four percent were female, and one percent unknown.” As to the ages of the known offenders, oddly enough, it ranged from as young as age 8 to as old as 57, MSAC analysts say. It gives a new meaning to the old expression “misspent youth.” Yet in cities in the state such as Baltimore, the city’s carjacking crime is fueled by joyriders, “juveniles and young men,” The Baltimore Sun reports. The age of 42 percent of the known carjackers ranged - mark this - “between 16 to 25 years of age inclusive,” the 2016 Crime in Maryland report reveals. In December 2016, a 13-year-old teen was reportedly shot in the head by a 73-year-old former police officer after the suspect attempted to carjack the vehicle with a fake gun.

 

Shadowy and insidious, carjackers are not respecters of persons or age. In fact, the ages of carjacking victims in Maryland “ranged from 2 to 87 years of age, with 56.7 percent being from 18 to 40 years of age,” explain MSAC analysts. During 2016, nearly a third - 31 percent- of carjacking crimes in Maryland occurred “between the hours of 8:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M.,” cautions the GOCCP.  Iniquitous carjackers are more likely to strike and catch their victims unawares on Wednesdays and Sundays in Maryland. 

 

Parking lots remain a high-risk area for the brazen crime of carjackings across Maryland. Carjackers in the state also pounce upon their intended prey at gas stations, in residential driveways and at intersections. Opportunistic to the core and bad to the bone, carjackers target unsuspecting motorists at highway exit and entry ramps, or anyplace else that drivers slow down or stop.  The most likely point of confrontation for a carjacking, a “potentially life-threatening form of auto theft,” is a parked vehicle, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic.

 

Nearly 50,000 carjacking’s occur in the nation yearly. Like the words “bash,” “hassle,” and “pennant,” the very words “carjacked” and “carjacking” are classified as a portmanteau,” that is to say, “a made-up word” derived, of course, from the word “hijacking.”  It was first coined in 1991 from a combination of the words “car” and “jacked” to describe the “theft of an automobile from its driver by force or intimidation.” In law enforcement circles, the term “carjacking” is defined “as completed or attempted robbery of a motor vehicle by a stranger to the victim” or as “the theft of an automobile from its driver by force or intimidation.”

 

Surviving a carjacking is key…Local law enforcement officials provide the following tips:

 

  • Never get in the car with the carjacker. If the carjacker threatens you with a gun or other weapon, give up your car. Or throw the keys as far as you can. Don’t argue. Your life is worth more than the vehicle.
  • If a carjacker threatens you with a gun, knife, brass knuckles, or another weapon, don’t put up a fight.
  • If the carjacker forces you to drive, buckle up, and consider staging a fender bender at an intersection.
  • Try to remember what the antagonist looked like - sex, race, age, hair, eye color, special features, and clothes.
  • Keep the car in drive at the ATM to prevent a carjacker from getting the drop on you.
  • Report the carjacking crime immediately to police.

 

Fewer crimes on the highway, or in a parking lot, at ATMs (automated teller machines), in gas stations, or in the Plutonian darkness of the night, leave victims feeling so defenseless or vulnerable.  As such, the crime of carjacking “differs from other motor vehicle theft because the victim is present and the offender uses or threatens to use force,” the Bureau of Justice Statistics explains. AAA Mid-Atlantic offers a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who steals or vandalizes a member’s vehicle or who is involved in the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle by violence, force, threats or intimidation.

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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 79,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit  http://aaa.com

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