CLEVELAND — While preparations continue for the funeral of Cleveland Police officer Shane Bartek on Tuesday, local leaders and experts are taking a closer look at carjackings in the city of Cleveland.
The 25-year-old officer was killed on New Year's Eve during a carjacking in the Kamm's Corner neighborhood while off duty.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O’Malley recently told News 5 carjackings in 2021 were up 22% from 2020, totaling 433 in the city of Cleveland.
In the Bartek case, an 18-year-old woman faces a first-degree aggravated murder charge for her role in that carjacking. O'Malley told News 5 that more likely than not those responsible for carjackings aren’t even as old as that suspect.
"For the most part, these individuals are juveniles," O'Malley said. "We’ve just got to get control of these kids.
National law enforcement expert Timothy Dimoff sees nationwide carjackings on the rise and points out that it doesn’t take a mastermind to pull off a carjacking.
“They can get that car and hit parts of the car on the black market,” he said. “So basically, it's an easy crime to carry out. Their intention is not to harm people in the carjacking. Ironically, they can get the car and not harm someone, getaway quick and get a return for their crime.”
Cleveland Ward 8 councilman Mike Polensek said it's time to take a closer look at how teenagers are held accountable for crimes.
“Why are these kids being cranked out of the system,” he said. “They’re arrested and back out on the street.”
As for what drivers should do, Dimoff offers this advice:
- Stop looking down at your phone when going to and from your car and be aware of your surroundings.
- If you have a child in the car, let the carjacker know because usually, they don’t want that kind of complication.
- Give the carjacker your keys and once you do, run and don’t stand around.
“They have gotten what they wanted, your car keys and your car, and you can go from there,” Dimoff said.
Dimoff told News 5 technology in cars going forward should help curb the issue, eventually with the standard capability to remotely shut off a car.