DC activates Carjacking Task Force after spate of violent thefts

D.C. is ramping up efforts to stem the rising threat of carjackings in the District since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Acting D.C. police Chief Robert Contee said Thursday that the city has started a task force explicitly designed to deal with the crime.

Contee said D.C. is “pulling in our federal partners to include the FBI, as part of that, MPD has specific detectives that we are now assigning all carjacking cases to.”

Police are already making arrests.

“Very recently, within the last two days, we’ve made an arrest for an individual over in the Sixth District that’s responsible for three carjackings,” Contee said. “And then, last night, there was also an arrest of four juveniles that committed a carjacking in upper Northwest, and that vehicle that they carjacked ended up in the Seventh District, and those four individuals were placed under arrest.”

“So, we want to be very intentional in terms of our our efforts, working with our partners at DFS to leverage technology in the form of latent prints and that kind of thing, to make sure that we do everything that we can to to bring this bring these carjackings under control,” he added.

Warrants are also being submitted that could lead to more arrests, and Contee said D.C. police are in talks with law enforcement partners across the country to see what other efforts may be helpful.

One thing Contee warned residents about were situations that could lead to a carjacking.

“One of the things that we’re seeing with respect to these carjackings are people that are
leaving their cars running or leaving them idling in the process of getting food and that kind of thing,” he said. “So we’re talking internally about what our campaign strategy will look like … going forward to make sure that the public is aware of that.”

Contee said residents should always be aware of their surroundings.

“With many of the cases that we see, cars are idling, individuals are on the way back to the car, or they’re getting gas or something like that. And then we have these, you know, these carjackings, hop-ins happen, cases that are really traumatizing folks in our community,” Contee said. “So to the extent that we can have the community help us out with that, that would be hugely helpful in bringing carjackings down in our city.”

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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