WASHINGTON — D.C. Police are reporting a surge in carjackings throughout the city, with the majority of arrests so far involving children.
On Friday, two 13-year-olds committed two armed carjackings in northwest D.C., the first of which happened in the 300 block of K Street NW around 7 p.m., according to police. Officers arrested the pair Saturday and charged them with two counts of armed carjacking.
Jennifer Ruiz was working at the restaurant RASA nearby when it happened.
“That’ll explain why there were a lot of police officers just flying down the street, just like three or four passing by real quick," Ruiz said. "I didn't know it was a carjacking."
Monday, she hung a sign back up by the carryout station, warning delivery drivers not to keep their cars running.
She said at the end of 2020, she witnessed two boys try to steal someone else's car right outside of the restaurant.
“There were two young boys just jumped in on the car," Ruiz said. "I guess they didn't know how to drive because they just crashed a car like two cars ahead.”
Police data shows an increasing trend not only in carjackings overall but also in juveniles being arrested for these crimes.
To date in 2021, police said there have been 101 carjackings compared to just 22 at the same time last year -- right before the pandemic took off and that number skyrocketed.
At least one kid has been arrested in 19 of those incidents, according to data published last Tuesday.
Since then, a 13-year-old and 15-year-old have been charged with the carjacking and murder of Mohammad Anwar in Navy Yard last week. Other MPD releases show at least four other teenagers arrested for carjackings since then.
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Over the past two years, officials report arresting 24 kids for carjacking in 2019 and 60 in 2020.
“Oh, it's scary," Ruiz said. "Cuz as a mother, I'm like, you're wondering, what are these little boys doing? Like, shouldn't they be in school? Shouldn't they be with their parents?”
The CEO of Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District, Kenyattah Robinson, who has a four-year-old son, laments that children have become involved in these crimes.
“It's my only wish that we as a community as a society can come together and embrace these children and start to show them the right path in the right way in life," he said.
Robinson said that despite the recent crimes, the CID has been working with MPD to help keep their heavily trafficked neighborhood safe.