PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An attempted carjacking targeting an off-duty Philadelphia police officer is under investigation as officials say crime has increased in the city over the past two years. The incident happened around 11:30 pm on Wednesday in the Ogontz neighborhood.
The department said the officer’s Chevy Malibu was rear-ended by a white Honda near Ogontz and Olney Avenues. The off-duty officer followed the car until it entered Lower Merion.
Police later found Honda and two suspects in Overbrook.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw issued the following statement on the increasing number of carjackings in the city.
No one issue is more important to me or to the members of the Philadelphia Police Department than to fight the ever-increasing violent crime in our city.
The attacks of violence taking place in Philadelphia are completely unacceptable and we are committed to stopping these trends.
One of the more troubling trends we’ve seen in Philadelphia is the startling increase in the number of carjackings—the driving of vehicles by force or fear—that has been experienced over the past two years.
We recognize the fear and uncertainty of these events, as the victims in these cases have touched almost every demographic.
It is clear that carjacking is a crime of opportunity, and it is possible that changes in our daily routines – such as the increased use of vehicles for delivery, curbside services and ridesharing – have provided increased opportunities for criminals. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has made wearing masks common, and it has made it more difficult for criminals to identify criminals while simultaneously avoiding drawing the attention of their victims.
We also know that this trend is not unique to Philadelphia, as similar increases have been observed across the country during the same time period.
Last year, 757 carjackings were reported in Philadelphia, an increase of 34% compared to 2020. Out of those 757 carjackings, the police arrested 150 persons, through those arrests cleared 93 investigations.
While we can expect more arrests and sanctions of cases in the future, we recognize that these figures are nowhere near where we need them, and work is underway to reduce these incidents.
Simply put, the PPD has deployed additional resources to investigate these incidents and apprehend the perpetrators. This includes plainclothes officers stationed in targeted areas and an operational task force dedicated to combating carjacking within the city.
In addition, each PPD detective department, as well as our flagship crime unit, which investigates crime rings and trends, employs detectives to investigate patterns, hotspots, and develop intelligence related to carjacking. Our Intelligence Bureau is also collecting information from multiple sources, participating in the mutual exchange of information with our law enforcement partners, and identifying locations, trends and patterns associated with carjacking in the city. In line with our efforts, the Attorney General’s Office is assisting with the investigation of carjacking in Philadelphia while providing our department with additional investigative technology.
We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners who are integrated in making Philadelphia a safer city, and we also need the public’s help to reduce these incidents. We want anyone who has any information about carjacking – or any violent crime – to share it with our tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477). You can remain anonymous. And as always, if you need immediate help, please call 911.
Please check out our tips on how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
The incident on Wednesday night is still being investigated.