Prince George’s Co. prosecutors say carjacking more organized than before

There were fewer than 100 carjackings in Prince George’s County in 2019, but during the pandemic, the numbers started to spike, that by 2022, the Maryland county saw an average of 10 per week.

At a news conference to announce a recent conviction in one particularly heinous case, Prince George’s County prosecutors provided new insight into the spike in these crimes and how they’ve evolved in recent months.

They said that the rise is why lawmakers in Annapolis will be presenting new legislation on their behalf that would create a Maryland Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO statute.

“We need every tool in the toolbox, every tool,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.

“Our data has indicated that this crime, more and more, is being perpetrated by organized crime,” said deputy state’s attorney Perry Paylor, and that having a state version of the federal RICO law “provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil course of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.”

“We expect to use this tool to be able to go up the chain and prosecute all the individuals involved in perpetrating the heinous crime of carjacking,” Paylor said.

Braveboy said that in many cases, adults are providing kids with handguns, who are then using those guns to commit crimes and steal cars. The cars are then used to either commit more crimes, or they get stripped for parts that are sold on the black market. In-demand car parts include catalytic converters and air bags.

“We know in many cases, not in every case but in many cases, this is really a network of individuals who are committing crimes,” said Braveboy, who added that her office is working throughout the region.

“We absolutely know, and our intelligence tells us, that many of these young people are part of these criminal networks, and they are organized by older and other individuals who seek to use them to commit offenses in furtherance of other crimes.”

Braveboy said they want to go after the entire enterprise.

“Guns are on our streets. We need to know where they’re coming from and why these young people have access to them, because they cannot lawfully purchase firearms. We know that. So they’re getting them from somewhere, ” Braveboy said, while calling on the legislative authority.

The announcement of the new legislation came after she announced the conviction and sentencing of 24-year-old Wayne Robinson, of Capitol Heights. He was convicted of carjacking a man in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2020, at a rec center in Adelphi.

Prosecutors said Robinson lured the victim there through a male dating app. Court records showed that Robinson has been arrested several times before in both Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. He pleaded guilty Tuesday for the crime in Adelphi and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“We believe we had a strong case, and we believe that our case would have convinced a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of Mr. Robinson’s guilt,” said Braveboy. “He was aware of the facts and our case against him, and he did the right thing by pleading guilty to armed carjacking.”

Braveboy said the 20-year sentence is exactly what her office would have asked for in the event of a guilty verdict after a trial.

“He received no breaks on his sentence by pleading guilty,” she said.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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