CLEVELAND — An alarming spike in carjackings in 2021 ended with the deadly carjacking of off-duty Cleveland Police Officer Shane Bartek on New Year’s Eve.
“It has to stop, it will destroy this city,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O’Malley. He said carjackings in 2021 were up 22% from 2020.
”How brazen, aggressive and violent the individuals are who are doing this,” said O’Malley.
He said there were 433 carjackings in the city of Cleveland alone last year.
"Gangs play a role in this for sure, neighborhood-based street gangs that we’ve seen here locally, across the Midwest are all very similar in the way they conduct this activity,” said Eric Smith, Cleveland FBI Special Agent in Charge.
Last year, the FBI took an in-depth look at criminal activity, including carjacking and car thefts, in five Midwestern cities — Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Milwaukee. All five cities, according to the FBI, saw an uptick in carjackings and car thefts.
“And the reasons for those were all very similar. Adults that were driving this criminal behavior, getting juveniles to conduct car thefts, having those cars then resold or reused in criminal activity, and the same goes for carjacking,” said Smith.
Although the 2021 carjacking statistics released by the prosecutor's officer are only for Cleveland, Smith said there has been an uptick in these crimes in Northeast Ohio suburbs as well.
Now, the Cleveland Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, Strikeforce, has been tasked with helping put the brakes on the violent crime.
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