More than 440 carjackings in Minneapolis have been reported in 2021, a 38% increase compared to last year, according to city statistics.
Most recently among them, several carjackings occurred over a period of hours on Friday in south Minneapolis, joining a slew of cities where these incidents have been on the rise in recent months, the crimes largely committed by juveniles.
Victims were robbed and held at gunpoint by multiple suspects in six carjackings in an area bounded by Hiawatha Avenue, Interstate 35W, Hwy. 62 and I-94, according to police.
Over a monthlong period from Sep. 28 to Oct. 25, MPD recorded 82 carjackings. Among them, 73% were in the Third and Fourth precincts in southeast and north Minneapolis, and there was a noticeable drop in incidents in the Fifth Precinct, which covers the city’s southwest side. As of Oct. 25, there were 436 carjackings in 2021. Despite the spike in carjackings, overall robbery cases increased by just 7%, and robbery of businesses dropped by 6%.
Many instances of carjacking in the fourth precinct involved ride-share operators, according to a police. More than 40 Uber or Lyft drivers have been targeted in about two months, police said.
Minneapolis police did not respond to repeated messages left Sunday. St. Paul, police spokesman Steve Linders said no immediate numbers were available, but no increases have been noted since spring. The carjackings have become a continued topic on social media neighborhood and crime pages. The incidents come days before the Minneapolis election where, among other issues, voters consider replacing the police department with a new public safety agency after a wave of new scrutiny of the department after the police killing of George Floyd.
Minneapolis didn’t specifically track carjackings until September 2020 because they were so infrequent. Previous cases fell under the larger umbrella of aggravated robberies and auto theft. The agency created a new coding system after last year’s summer months yielded an unusually high number of attacks.
“These suspects have been known to ask for directions, then rob the victim of a purse, phone or car,” read an MPD crime alert issued at the time in the Third Precinct. It advised residents to be aware of their surroundings and carry only essentials.
Another alert noted that the encounters involve suspects wearing masks and happen so quickly that it’s often challenging for witnesses to describe the assailants.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the Twin Cities are seeing a trend of carjackings committed by juveniles.
On Saturday night, his department arrested two teens, ages 17 and 15, after they were spotted in a stolen vehicle. On Oct. 27, the vehicle’s owner was robbed, assaulted and carjacked on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. One of them possessed a gun. Both remain in the Juvenile Detention Center, he said.
“I talked to both of the young men that we arrested last night, it’s like anything else, 90% of their personality is positive and shows promise, but you need to control those criminal instincts the other 10% of the time,” Fletcher said. “We need to we need to help them find some tools to be able to stop them from carjacking people.”
Staff writers Jackie Crosby and Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.
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