Police warn community about violent carjacking crime ring - say threat is skyrocketing daily

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – According to reports, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), is warning local drivers about a carjacking crime ring.

The criminals are holding up drivers at gunpoint, stealing the cars and then driving them down to New Jersey. Police said that there have been dozens of carjackings so far this year following the pattern mentioned above.

Investigators said that many of the incidents are happening in police districts close to the Delaware River where suspects have easy access to bridges. One victim from South Philadelphia, said in a statement, “To be honest, I felt like everywhere is not safe anymore.”

The victim said that he was carjacked on a Friday morning around 12:45 a.m. on 6th and Porter streets. When he got out of his car, he was confronted with a suspect pointing a handgun at him. The man said, “The second came with an assault rifle with him and that’s when I decided, ‘Oh, I don’t think it’s worth anymore to fight.’”

He gave the suspects his wallet and keys. They drove away with his 2019 Toyota Rav4, which police were able to trace to Camden, New Jersey.

According to authorities, a similar crime happened near 10th and Federal streets back in August. A surveillance photo of one of the three suspects was released; the suspects had handguns and had stolen a person’s black Dodge truck. That vehicle was also traced to Camden.

David Jackson, an individual who lives near the scene of that particular crime, said in a statement, “You can’t even park your car anymore in your neighborhood and feel safe that your car is going to be safe.”

Police have stated that there have been 41 carjackings in 2023 where suspects are stealing the vehicles from areas around Philadelphia and then driving them across bridges along the Delaware River.

Another surveillance video from July 2023 shows a group of people surrounding a car on the 2600 block of Front Street. In that video, they are pointing guns at the driver. That car was also driven to New Jersey.

Inspector D.F. Pace with the PPD said in a statement, “That’s why we see a lot of these carjackings occurring in South Philadelphia, in East Division for example, where there’s a very close proximity to these bridges where they can make a quick getaway out of Philadelphia.”

Investigators with the PPD are working closely with Camden County police on several of these cases. Data indicates that although carjackings are down in 2023, the police districts along the Delaware River are actually seeing carjackings at a rate of 3.5 times higher than the rest of the city. 

“It appears to be about four or five groups, each acting independently, but they’ve been very prolific in carjacking a number of vehicles," Pace said.

Police will continue to investigate, in hopes of catching the criminals soon, but in the meantime, they are urging drivers to be more cautious. Most importantly, they say to pay attention to your surroundings at all times.

Back in August, a pair of carjackers hopped off what was described as an illegal dirt bike to assault a man during a carjacking just before leaving the victim for dead as they too, escaped to New Jersey.

Family came forward and identified the man as 60-year-old Peter Chan of Chinatown. Chan was found bleeding from his head by responding officers; at the time he was in a semi-conscious state. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died approximately 40 minutes later.

This violent attack happened on 3rd and Cambridge streets in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said that the suspects would be charged with robbery, carjacking and homicide.
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