Homicides, carjackings up in Montgomery County

Year-end statistics show crime is up sharply in Montgomery County, Maryland, including killings and carjackings, and police said stolen cars are sometimes used in other crimes.

The Montgomery County Council Public Safety Committee was told Tuesday that there were 32 homicides and 67 carjackings in 2021. The numbers reflect an 88% increase in homicides and 72% increase in carjackings.

Other types of crimes dropped last year, including a 22% decrease in commercial burglaries and a 10% decrease in residential burglaries.

However, there’s a 21% increase in vehicle theft, and identify theft is up 62%.

“Unfortunately, homicides, carjackings and auto theft, in particular, continue to increase; and unfortunately, people are using guns and other firearms during these types of crimes,” legislative analyst Susan Farag told the committee. “There’s been a significant increase in violent crimes with the use of firearms.”

Firearm-related crime increased by 17% in 2020 and another 27% in 2021.

Where are the guns coming from?

“The majority of guns that we get off the street are stolen handguns … we seized approximately 1,192 firearms last year,” said Assistant Chief of Police Dinesh Patil, who heads the Investigative Services Bureau for the department.

Police also said that an increasing number of so-called ghost guns, guns assembled at home from kits purchased online, have ‌increasingly been turning up at crime scenes.

Pointing to the sharp rise in carjackings, the committee asked police where vehicles carjacked in Montgomery County are typically taken.

“Where are these cars going … I’d like to understand what criminals are doing with these cars that they end up stealing from individuals?” Council member Craig Rice asked.

Police say many of the county’s stolen cars are targeted by organized criminals.

“We are seeing a great deal of our cars end up in Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County … we are being, I’ll say for lack of better terms, attacked by crews that are working out of D.C. and other places that are coming to Montgomery County in a very thoughtful and planned way,” Patil said.

Police also told the panel that cars stolen in Montgomery County are regularly used in violent crimes. The committee was given a graphic example of a car stolen in a Bethesda burglary.

“We recovered one car … in a pretty short amount of time from when it was stolen, and there was blood all in and outside the car and an AR-15 in the backseat,” Patil said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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