DC police working with federal agencies to reduce car jackings, alert drivers

The D.C. police department is launching a task force to take on the rise of carjackings. The District is one of a handful of cities across the U.S. experiencing a spike in the crime.

Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee has formed a carjacking task force made up of detectives who are dedicated to reducing the escalating crime. Carjackings in D.C. were up 143% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Working with the FBI, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C., Contee said the team is tracking all carjackings to establish suspect-patterns and make arrests.

The task force is also working to alert businesses in some of the city’s hot spots, and asking all drivers to park and lock their cars.

“Never leave your engine running or unattended,” Contee said. “I know that with the cold weather, it is tempting to leave your car running or to run in very quickly to pick up a delivery. But this leaves your car vulnerable to theft.”

He also stressed the importance of not leaving any children in running cars. Last week, police were able to find a stolen car that was abandoned with the child still inside. The toddler was unhurt.

Carjackings have hit delivery drivers especially hard. Many for-hire drivers who were transporting people around the city before the pandemic transitioned to picking up packages and delivering food when passengers were harder to come by.

“Leaving your car on for just a second is not worth it,” said David Do, director of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles. “And if you do fall victim of being in a car theft, please, please do not fight back.”

The director of the regulatory arm of the for-hire vehicles that regulates Uber, Lyft and Via, and limousines and taxis, said because of those deliveries, they’ve had an increase in reported carjackings and vehicle thefts.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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