D.C. police investigating spate of carjackings and car thefts

Public Safety

D.C. police investigating spate of carjackings and car thefts

By Peter Hermann, Washington Post, February 22 at 7:51 PM

District police are trying to curtail an uptick in violent carjackings and car thefts across the District in the past two months, a violent trend that has continued even after some significant ­arrests.

Capt. William FitzGerald said information about stolen vehicles is quickly pushed out to patrol officers, who on Feb. 12 pursued a BMW and arrested four suspects less than two hours after an armed carjacking at a gas station in Northwest Washington.

Police said two of those arrested were linked to two other carjackings and the thefts of three cars, including two Acuras belonging to the same man, which were stolen on subsequent days on Capitol Hill. FitzGerald, who is in the criminal investigation division, said those suspects were being monitored by detectives, allowing police to quickly file additional charges after the Feb. 12 arrest.

“We believe they were responsible for more than that,” FitzGerald said. “That group contributed to the spike.”

But another wave of carjackings — one later described to a car theft — followed, starting on Feb. 14 and continuing through Feb. 18. FitzGerald said police do not believe those incidents, all of which happened in Northeast and Southeast, are related.

Despite the recent cases, police said carjackings have been on a downward trend in recent years. There were 116 reported in the District in 2012, 108 in 2013 and 99 last year. This year’s numbers were not available, but FitzGerald said they are slightly above last year’s. Police said 362 vehicles have been stolen so far this year, up from 305 at this time in 2014.

Some of the carjackings came in clumps. Police said the group arrested Feb. 12 had taken two cars within 15 minutes on Feb. 10–a BMW from the 1900 block of 9th Street NE and a short time later, a Mercedes- Benz from the unit block of Florida Avenue NE.

Police said the first happened about 8 p.m. at a convenience store and the second about 8:15 p.m. at a gas station.In both cases, police said, a man threatened the car owner with a small black handgun.

Two days later, on Feb. 12, police said, the group stole another BMW from a gas station in the 900 block of Florida Avenue NW. The owner said he was pumping gas about 3:40 p.m. when another BMW, which police thought had been taken on Feb. 10, pulled up to an adjacent pump.Police said a man wearing a mask got out, pointed a black handgun at the victim and said “Give up the keys. Give me the keys.”

Both BMWs drove off, and police said they found one of them 30 minutes later, abandoned in Northeast Washington. About 5 p.m., officers spotted the other BMW being driven “recklesslyon West Virginia Avenue toward New York Avenue “ in Northeast.

Police chased the vehicle about two miles through rush-our traffic. In a police arrest affidavit, officers described the chase as going at a “high rate of speed running the red lights and nearly causing multiple accidents.” The affidavit says that the BMW was “going so fast that the wheels were screeching in turns,” and that at least once, drivers were on the wrong side of the road, “weaving in and out of traffic.”

The BMW crashed on L Street NE near North Capitol Street. Police said they arrested the 20-year-old driver, an 18-year-old woman and two juveniles. The two adults and one juvenile were charged with three carjackings. The driver and one juvenile were each charged with three car thefts.

Another wave of carjackings started two days later, on Feb. 14, when police said four men armed with guns stole a silver Mitsubishi from the 1500 block of Kenilworth Avenue NE about 9:15 p.m.

Last Monday, police said three men with guns took a vehicle at Southern Avenue and 23rd Street SE.

On Tuesday, police said a man reported that his GMC Yukon with his 5-year-old daughter inside was taken from the 3700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. The 52-year-old told police that a man approached and told him “Get out of the way,” while another man pushed him aside. Both men got in the Yukon and drove off, the man told police.

Police said they quickly found the Yukon abandoned about a block away, and the girl was standing outside. She was not harmed.

Two police officials said the man was not carjacked but rather had left his daughter in the car with the engine running while he went into a convenience store.

The police officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were describing an ongoing investigation, said two men then jumped in the car and took off. The officials described the theft as random. Authorities said an 18-year-old man from Northwest was arrested Friday and charged with robbery.

Attempts to contact the victim were unsuccessful.

Another carjacking occurred about 3 a.m. Wednesday when a gunman approached a man as he delivered newspapers to homes on Eads Street NE.

“Don’t move or I’ll kill you in the snow,” the gunman said according to the victim’s account in a D.C. police report. The victim told police the gunman struck him on the left side of his face with the gun, then drove off in his white Toyota Corolla. The vehicle had a damaged front bumper, a missing front hubcap and a sticker across the windshield that says “never-forgotten.”

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