An Inside Look at Philadelphia’s Record Carjackings

By the end of May this year, there were more reported carjackings in Philadelphia than in all of 2020, according to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer. If the trend continues, the city is on track to finish the year with a 500% increase over 2019 and a record 1,400 carjackings for 2022. Carjacking has occurred in nearly every part of the city from the streets of South Philly through bold holdups outside City Hall.

Teens are behind many of these crimes: of the 179 arrested to date this year, two-thirds are 20 years old or younger, and about a third are just old enough to legally drive. Some were as young as 12. The article included interviews with some of these young carjackers, who spoke on condition of anonymity about why they do it.

Social media is a driving force, and young people often brag about stolen cars online as a way to gain social status. Carjacking is also fueled in part by boredom. When schools and community centers closed during the pandemic, it was something to do and a convenient way to get around the city. The teens noted that they never carjack in their own neighborhoods. They generally work in groups of about four and wear face masks, primarily using fear to make victims give up their vehicles.

Key fobs have played a role, too. They make cars harder to steal, requiring thieves to confront drivers. Rideshare and delivery drivers are frequently targeted, as well. The article noted that it is often a crime of opportunity: the type of car matters less than the victim. Carjackers look for someone alone and vulnerable.

If you have been the target of a carjacking or crime, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney experienced in victims of crime cases. Please reach out to us. As former prosecutors and victims’ advocates, we are uniquely positioned to help crime victims file claims through both the criminal and civil courts in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.