PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are warning drivers about a carjacking crime ring where suspects are holding up drivers at gunpoint, stealing the cars, and driving them to New Jersey.
Investigators say there have been dozens of carjackings in 2023 that followed this pattern, many of them happening in police districts close to the Delaware River where suspects have easy access to bridges.
"To be honest, I felt like everywhere is not safe anymore," said one victim from South Philadelphia. He says he was carjacked Friday morning around 12:45 a.m. on 6th and Porter streets.
He got out of his car to find a suspect pointing a handgun at him.
"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 said.
He says he gave the suspects his wallet and keys and they drove away with his 2019 Toyota Rav4, which police traced to Camden.
A similar crime happened near 10th and Federal streets last month. Police released a surveillance picture of one of three suspects with handguns who stole a person's black Dodge truck. Investigators again traced it to Camden.
"You can't even park your car anymore in your neighborhood and feel safe that your car is going to be safe," said David Jackson, who lives near the scene of that crime.
Police say there have been 41 carjackings in 2023 where suspects are stealing vehicles from Philadelphia and escaping across bridges along the Delaware River.
Surveillance video from July shows a group of people surrounding a car on the 2600 block of Front Street and pointing guns at the driver. Police say this car was also brought to New Jersey.
"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," said Inspector D.F. Pace with the Philadelphia Police Department.
He added investigators are working closely with Camden County police on the case.
The Action News Data Journalism team found that while carjackings are actually down in 2023, these police districts along the river are seeing carjackings at a rate 3.5 times higher than the rest of the city.
Investigators say it's a crime ring they're close to cracking.
"It appears to be about four or five groups, each acting independently, but they've been very prolific in carjacking a number of vehicles," said Pace.
As police continue to investigate, they're urging drivers to be more cautious. Most importantly, pay attention to your surroundings at all times.