Police: Carjackings on the rise in Philadelphia

Katie Katro Image
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Police: Carjackings on the rise in Philadelphia
Investigators say carjackings have been skyrocketing, and the suspects committing these crimes have become more fearless.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's a crime that's becoming all too common on Philadelphia streets. Investigators say carjackings have been skyrocketing, and the suspects committing these crimes have become more fearless.

"I turned around and they pointed the guns in my face, asked for my wallet, my keys, and my phone," said John Greco, a victim of a carjacking.

Greco said two handguns were pointed at his head right outside his home on the 8300 block of Dorcas Street in Rhawnhurst on Sunday at about 7:30 p.m.

Greco said he was on his way to work when two men jumped out of a burgundy SUV, each holding a handgun, and demanded his phone, wallet, and car keys, before driving away in his car.

"I was shocked. I went into shock to have those kinds of guns. People get shot that way," said Greco.

Greco said he's lucky to be alive to tell the story so many others in the city have had to live, as carjackings are on the rise in Philadelphia by a nearly 100% increase in the last two years.

In 2019 there were 225 carjackings, in 2020 there were 410, and in 2021, police said there have already been 28 carjackings.

Now, Greco's neighbor said she calls her mom before she pulls into the driveway after work, fearful for her own life.

"We live right next to each other, but it happened right in front of my car. So, now when I pull in at night, I'm afraid to get out of my car and a couple of feet to my door because it happened right here," said Kristy Newell, Greco's neighbor.

Within the last few years, in nearly 200 of those carjackings, no weapon was used, police said.

Philadelphia police sent a list to Action News of ways to prevent a carjacking:

- Park in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings

- Equip your vehicle with an anti-theft device

- Lock your doors while driving or parked

- Avoid driving alone at night when possible

- Don't stop for apparently stranded strangers on the road. Note their location and pull over in a safe place once you've passed to call for help.

What to do after an attack

If you are threatened with a weapon, give up your car. Your life is worth more than the vehicle. Try to note as many physical characteristics of the carjacker as possible so that you can provide a detailed report when you call the police. As always, doing your best to avoid a potentially dangerous situation is the best way to prevent an attack. Always carry a cell phone with you when you exit your vehicle and use your best judgment when driving and parking in unfamiliar areas.

Police have recovered Greco's car, but the men responsible are still on the loose. Police said the men are believed to be around 17-21 years old. They were driving a newer model burgundy SUV with an unknown Pa. license plate, police said.