'This 11-Year-Old Is a Prolific Carjacker in Our City'

A look at the carjacking surge and the tweens and teens behind many of them
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2022 7:33 AM CST
'This 11-Year-Old Is a Prolific Carjacker in Our City'
This Jan. 15, 2020, still image from dashboard camera video released via the Connecticut State Police shows officers surrounding a vehicle stopped in West Haven, Conn., following a high-speed chase along Interstate 95.   (Connecticut State Police via AP)

"Unfortunately, this 11-year-old has been arrested before, and he is considered a prolific carjacker in our city," said Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown in a press conference last November, per ABC Chicago. In Washington, DC, a pair of 14-year-old girls were convicted of murdering a 66-year-old UberEats driver after a botched carjacking, per the Washington Post. These are but two of hundreds of examples of a nationwide trend involving teen and tween carjackers. As CNN reports, carjacking rates have surged in many major cities since the start of the pandemic. And as Christopher Herrmann of John Jay College of Criminal Justice puts it, "The majority [are] young joyriders. They’re not keeping the cars. They’re jacking cars to commit another crime … or joyriding around for the sake of social media."

That’s right: TikTok and other sites are rife with popular carjacking content. But the pandemic part may be another key driving factor, reports the New York Times. In addition to criminal justice experts, the Times spoke with community organizers and teens living in troubled neighborhoods who speak to the social impacts of the closure of schools and rec centers during the pandemic. To wit, a University of Chicago study that zeroed in on youth who were charged with carjacking in 2020 compared to years prior found they were more likely to live in areas had lower rates of internet access and school attendance.

Another pandemic-related angle: The proliferation of delivery and rideshare operators created easy targets of opportunity. Per Business Insider, the "gig driver" industry is feeling the impact, as 35% of gig platform workers surveyed in August 2021 reported often or sometimes feeling unsafe on the job. The trend may not change soon, even as schools reopen and society rebounds. "The long-term impact of the solitary and traumatic pandemic years on the development of adolescents cannot be overstated," Georgetown Law professor Eduardo Ferrer tells the Times. "I don’t think people are prepared for how much we are going to have to dig out and heal from the pandemic." (Read more carjacking stories.)

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