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Joint Task Force Will Target Uptick In Carjackings In DC, Maryland

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Carjackings have spiked nationwide over the past year but there's a new regional task force working to change that and it's already proving to be successful.

The task force has led to the indictment of three people in two separate cases. Officials said carjackings are a serious public safety problem that spans across city and county lines. So, to help crack these cases, they believe a multi-jurisdictional approach is needed.

"We are tearing down the borders that carjackers use to conceal their trails of violence," said Jonathan Lenzner, the acting U.S. Attorney General for Maryland.

Federal and state law enforcement in Maryland and DC are teaming up for a regional carjacking prosecution task force. Their goal is to ensure all resources are used to track down and prosecute violent offenders to the fullest extent of the law.

"These defendants are not just stealing cars, but they are assaulting law-abiding citizens, sticking guns in their faces and creating traumatic memories, which these victims and the communities will be haunted by for a long time beyond just the crime," said Lenzner.

Major cities like Washington D.C. along with Prince George's and Montgomery counties are seeing a spike in carjackings. The numbers doubled in 2020 and the trend has even spilled into this year.

Just two weeks ago, on May 7, an 18-year-old was arrested for armed carjacking following a crash in Laurel.

In Baltimore, the city isn't following the trend. In fact, police say carjackings are down 21-percent.

However, back in April, a carjacking turned deadly in southeast Baltimore when 41-year-old Fabian Mendez was hit by his own car. Several teens are facing charges in that case.

"One of the most concerning trends that we've seen is the number of young people, juveniles, engaged in carjackings, some as young as 13 years old," said Aisha Braveboy, Prince George's County State's Attorney.

Officials believe the pandemic could be what's to blame since young people have more time on their hands out of school.

"We did not see that this was a huge sophisticated organization of young people or even young people. A lot of it was just the joy riding, sometimes we saw the cars being sold on social media platforms," said Braveboy.

The task force is still making the message clear and warning of the consequences. "If you carjack somebody, whatever jurisdiction you're in or you go to, whatever you're age, you will be held accountable," said Lenzner.

Officials said besides arresting, prosecuting and investigating, educating the public is just as important.

They're reminding people not to leave cars running, be aware of their surroundings, and park in well-lit areas to help avoid falling victim to carjacking.

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