After Carjack Spike, NJ Cracks Down - NBC New York

After Carjack Spike, NJ Cracks Down



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    Victims have been carjacked at funerals, day care centers, in front of businesses -- a pastor was even held up en route to church.

    After a large spike in carjackings across Essex County in recent weeks, police and federal authorities are cracking down with a joint task force. 

    U.S. attorney Paul Fishman said the group is working to "take carjackers off the street as soon as possible, and to keep them off the street for as long as possible."

    There were more than 140 carjackings from November through January in Newark and surrounding Essex County communities.

    With a task force of police from Newark and the state, along with FBI and other federal agents, the number of carjackings dropped in February and March to 19.

    Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said the carjacking task force has been a "success" and "one of many tools ... to prevent and reduce carjackings."

    With federal charges, suspects who are convicted could face up to 15 years in prison, 25 if someone was injured in the attack.

    Officials said several groups of young men were believed to be behind the recent wave. Many have been arrested, including three suspects on Friday. 

    The FBI said this is an ongoing crackdown. Monday's announcement was to update the public on successes so far.

    Newark FBI Director Michael Ward said in a time when many agencies and departments are dealing with shrinking resources, the task force enables law enforcement 'to surge when necessary in the face of an evolving threat."

    Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said her office is looking to prosecute as adults some teenagers who used violence to steal cars, in an added message of deterrence.