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With car thefts on the rise, this victim sends a warning for DMV car owners

Several law enforcement departments have teamed up to create a carjacking task force across the D.C. area.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An Alexandria small business owner is warning other drivers to keep their guards up after her vehicle was stolen as she was pumping gas.

It has been over a month since Allison Priebe tried to stop a man who slipped into her passenger side door from taking off, but as of this week, police finally gave the vehicle back to her after it was found a couple of weeks ago.

The incident happened after 1 p.m. at the Liberty Gas Station on South Patrick Street in Alexandria on Feb. 7. Priebe barely got a gallon of gas when she said the culprit got into her vehicle and locked her out.

"I jumped up on my vehicle and I was in his face and was screaming, 'Get out of my car now," Priebe described to WUSA9. "I may or may have not used some profanities."

The thief drove off and doused Priebe in gasoline in the process. Many of her belongings including her cell phone, purse, jewelry and laptop were stolen. Priebe said her card was used to buy gas and gift cards at a Target in Prince George's County. 

The vehicle also had speeding violations in Montgomery County before it was found in D.C. 

Priebe said she's now learned to keep her door locked when stepping out, bring her belongings in and be more aware. It's a message she's relaying to people she knows amid the uptick in stolen cars and carjackings across the DMV.

"I never blame the victim but things like this happen and you always think how you'll do things differently," Priebe added. "As horrible as the crime is I do realize I'm blessed."

The Alexandria Police Department said as of January, there has only been one confirmed carjacking case. 

In Arlington, police addressed the increase in carjackings last month. Since January, the department investigated 18 reports of carjackings in the county. A spokesperson said the number has stayed since the announcement.

The problems lie in the District and Maryland where many of the fraudulent activity and other violent crimes have occurred related to the stolen vehicles. 

According to MPD, there have been 91 carjackings in D.C. this year, compared to 18 in the same time frame last year. Montgomery County Police is reporting 16 carjackings since January. 

RELATED: Police: More than 100 carjackings reported in DMV so far this year, a drastic jump from last year

As a result, the region established a 2021 Carjacking Task Force that includes the Metropolitan Police Department, the Prince George's County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the FBI, and various State's Attorney's Offices.

The regional task force announced Thursday it is responsible for four arrests involving suspects tied to 22 crimes that occurred in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia between January and February of this year. 

The suspects were between 18 and 21 years old.

"We do see those individuals again not necessarily doing it for financial gain that it is some sort of a joyride or a kick," Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said in a press conference on Thursday.

In Priebe's case, it's unknown if a suspect has been caught but police released a surveillance picture of who they say is the suspect and an accomplice at a store in Prince George's County.

Credit: Alexandria PD

Priebe said her plate was also switched to another vehicle reportedly tied to a different crime in Montgomery County.

RELATED: Alexandria Police: Person briefly stole car that had a child inside

RELATED: Amid continued surge in carjackings, DC task force says they're seeing some success

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