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Carjackings Up Significantly In Philadelphia Compared To 2021; Residents In Fairmount Fear They're Next Target

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's not just shootings on the rise in Philadelphia, so are carjackings. There have been 91 carjackings so far this year, compared to just 24 at the same time last year.

Philadelphia police have recovered a car that they saw was part of a foiled carjacking attempted Wednesday night. An off-duty Philadelphia police officer says the white Honda rear-ended his Chevy Malibu at Ogontz and Olney Avenues. He followed the car into Lower Merion.

Police later found the Honda and two suspects in Overbrook.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw spoke Thursday afternoon about the carjacking surge in Philly.

"Philadelphia has seen an increase in the number of carjackings taken place," Outlaw said. "Unfortunately, this trend is not unique to Philadelphia. I know that those words bring little comfort right now to our community members, many of whom are experiencing fear and uncertainty, but I do hope that we will ease their fears. I do hope that they know and understand that the Philadelphia Police Department is actively working to identify and apprehend the individuals committing these crimes."

The police commissioner says the department is deploying more resources to catch suspects and to prevent carjackings before they happen.

In the meantime, some are fearful and afraid they could be next.

"I love Fairmount, I want nothing more than to stay in Fairmount," Laura Velasco said.

But Velasco isn't so sure it's the safest move. At least not since she says it seems her neighborhood is under siege by a ring of carjackers.

The startling reality for this mother.

"If it's me getting carjacked, that's fine, I hand over my keys," she said. "I can't have that happening to my son."

Philadelphia has seen a tripling of carjackings in just the last few weeks compared to the same time last year.

Video from Fairmount shows one carjacking in broad daylight.

"If you look at the video, you can see that there are two people and they are just kind of waiting and they very calmly walk up to the car and they take it from the neighbor," Velasco said.

Departure from the norm, what concerns neighbors as these carjackings are no longer happening in the middle of the night but at any time of day.

"Suddenly, I'm like, 'oh, these carjackings are really getting close to home,' and then two days later, there was one in broad daylight," Velasco said, "and I'm like, 'oh this is not just don't be in your car at 11 o'clock at night."

The unnerving crime motivated Velasco to email Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke's office.

She typed, "I now fear getting out of my car every day."

A staff member responded noting their concerns and that police would be alerted.

Velasco also messaged me.

"Essentially, they said they're taking some action, but they can't really tell us what the action is, because it is -- a police strategy," Velasco said.

For now, Velasco says she and her husband keep their heads on a swivel, but her real fear is for her son.

"You get to your car door and you're either getting in or getting out and someone comes and more than likely they will have a gun and they will point it at you," she said, "which is my concern for my son. I don't want a gun pointed at him."

With these crimes on the rise, Philadelphia police want to make sure residents know how to stay safe. They say look at what they call hot spots for carjackings -- any time you're getting in and out of your car, in your driveway, or parking lots and garages, at gas stations and ATMs and on streets with poor lighting.

There are also two common scenarios to keep in mind. One is called "bump and run." That's when someone bumps into your car and when you get out to look at the damage, another person steals it, If you feel threatened, stay inside, drive somewhere safe and call 911.

Here's another scenario. Criminals will also call for food deliveries. Then when the food gets there, they take the delivery driver's car.

Here are some safety tips from the police. First, make it a habit to start your car and drive away immediately. You should also check around before getting in for any suspicious people or vehicles. Police suggest parking in well-lit areas and keeping your windows rolled up and doors locked.

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