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Police say armed carjackings up 115% in past year

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    OAKLAND (KPIX) — Police in Oakland recently announced armed carjackings in the city increased 115 percent over the past 12 months, according to authorities.

The number of carjackings in the past year was up to 200 as of Sunday, compared with 93 from June 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, according to figures released by the department Wednesday.

“From east to west,” said police spokesperson Johnna Watson said at a briefing Thursday. “North Oakland, South, across Oakland. That’s why there isn’t a specific area that we’re focusing on. This is really across the City of Oakland.”

In addition, more than six have occurred just since Monday of this week, according to police.

Armed suspects are approaching victims at stop lights and stop signs and suspects are crashing a vehicle into the victim’s vehicle before stealing the victim’s car, police said.

When the victim gets out to exchange information with the suspect, that’s when the suspect steals the vehicle.

“You’ll be sitting in your car, and they’ll come up, often armed,” Watson explained. “So they will be armed with some type of firearm, and they want your car.”

In some cases, the suspects have broken the window to the victim’s car to try to steal their belongings such as purses, laptops or cellphones that are on a seat.

Police said most of the carjackings appear to be crimes of opportunity where the suspects use the vehicles to then commit other crimes such as home robberies or thefts of personal items.

Multiple suspects are often involved in the carjackings, according to police.

Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo told KPIX 5 his concern is that many of those connected to the Oakland carjackings have been young and tied to other crimes.

“What I see in certain areas is the young people that are involved in working together as groups,” Gallo says. “We need to address that immediately, as a community, as a family, as a home.”

Watson said if one becomes a victim of carjacking, “We encourage you not to resist, not to fight. Property can be replaced, your life cannot.”

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