Five teenagers, aged 13-17, have been among the people arrested recently in a spate of Philadelphia carjackings, police announced Wednesday.
The youngest of the teens led a police chase, crashed into a parked car, struggled with officers and was found with crack cocaine and marijuana, Philadelphia Police Department Deputy Commissioner of Investigations Benjamin Naish said.
The boy had his hand in his pants pocket when he approached a woman who had parked her car on the 900 block of South 49th Street on March 3, leading her to believe he had a gun, Naish said. Less than 10 minutes later, police saw the car, which sped off.
The officers made a U turn to try and stop the teen, who then crashed into a parked car with a person inside on the 5700 block of Whitby Avenue, Naish said. Minutes later, the woman whose car was stolen positively identified the 13-year-old as the person who carjacked her, the deputy commissioner said.
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“I don't want to say it’s surprising, but it’s definitely concerning, it’s definitely alarming,” PPD Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said about the young age of some of the carjackers her officers have arrested recently. “We know that young people are also trigger pullers. We also know, as such, that our victims are also becoming younger, not just of carjackings but of violent crime in general.”
The next oldest among the teens arrested was a 14-year-old accused in the same carjacking as a 16-year-old.
That incident happened on March 5 on the 3800 block of Jasper Street when a man sitting in his parked car was approached by five males and ordered out of the vehicle as one of them pointed a gun at him, Naish said. As he exited, one of the suspects hit him in the face, Naish added.
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Three hours later, officers on the 2700 block of Kensington Avenue saw the car and five males inside. All five ran away, and police were able to arrest three of them -- the 14-year-old and 16-year-old, as well as a 19-year-old, Naish said.
Yet another 16-year-old was arrested in a separate carjacking after a man’s car was stolen March 7th.
Officers spotted the car the next day and were guarding it when the teen started walking toward the vehicle, Naish said. After spotting the police, the boy turned around and began to run.
The officers ran after him and found him in an alley, after which he threw something onto the roof of a nearby building, Naish said. The item was the key fob belonging to the stolen car, he said.
The 17-year-old, meanwhile, is accused of carjacking a food delivery driver and then pinning him to a wall with the vehicle.
It happened on March 7th when the man returned to his car after completing a delivery and found the teen sitting in the driver’s seat, Naish said.
The boy drove off with the delivery driver hanging on to the side of the car, and then drove the man against a wall when he fell off before turning the car around and trying to hit the man again, the deputy commissioner said. The man sustained injuries to his hands and knees.
The next day, officers spotted the car and arrested the 17-year-old, who was driving. The delivery driver identified the boy as the one who stole the car.
Outlaw noted that curbing the crime rate among youths is a collective effort.
“It’s important for all of us to recognize that public safety is an ecosystem. We have to have comprehensive strategies that not only address the enforcement end, but ensuring that there are services and programming for our young people to ensure that we are also addressing the prevention end,” she said.
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.