Carjackings have surged in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just as they have across parts of the country over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials are now trying to address the spike by bringing more awareness to it.
At Cypress Athletic Field in Laurel, the county held another in its series of anti-carjacking educational and community events. That included a preview of a video ad campaign that’s part of an effort to target young adults and teenagers.
The numbers for this crime in Prince George’s County are pretty stark over the past few years.
In 2018, there were 108 carjackings in the county. In 2019, that number shrank to 93. However, in 2020 it ballooned to 263, and this does not include municipalities within Prince George’s with their own police forces.
These numbers fell in line with the sharp rise in the crime nationwide. However, according to figures from a county police spokesperson as well as State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy, those numbers are looking a bit better so far this year.
“We saw a reduction of the monthly incidents, but that’ll ebb and flow,” Braveboy said.
“We’re not going to be satisfied. We’re not going to say, ‘Oh, we, you know, we won this fight.’ Now, this is a consistent and continued fight, but we know that gun violence and carjackings will not run or rule the day in Prince George’s County. So we’re working with our various law enforcement agencies to address the issue and we’ll get our arms around it,” Braveboy said.
What makes these crimes stand out is that they aren’t part of a sophisticated carjacking ring. Braveboy said they are often people who are doing it “for the thrill,” and are sometimes even teens who dump the vehicles inside the D.C. border.
“A lot of it is that thrill seeking, but it’s very dangerous, not only for the victim, but also for the suspects,” Braveboy said. “Especially when you talk about children who are 13, 14, they don’t even have the ability to drive, they can’t even get a license, but now they’re out on our roadways, making it dangerous for everyone else on the road. So it’s a big problem.”
Braveboy mentioned how officials brought resources, job opportunities and clinical help who need support at an event in District Heights on Friday
It’s part of a broader goal that these events foster community engagement.
“We’re here to say, ‘Look, we’re your partners, we’re all neighbors, how can we help?'” Braveboy said, “So if there are needs, we can help you to address those needs, because carjacking, gun violence, that’s just not going to be acceptable, and it’s not the answer.”
At least three more anti-carjacking educational community events are planned for the rest of the summer as part of the county’s push to curb this crime.