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Winnipeg dealing with disturbing spike in carjackings, say police

Winnipeg police dealing with disturbing spike in carjackings
Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver talks about what police are doing to curb a rise in carjackings in the city.

Carjackings happen quickly, often violently and now, more often than ever before in Winnipeg.

In just one year the number of carjackings in the city more than doubled from 50 in 2017 to 103 last year.

By the end of August this year, police had reports of 76 and believe they are on track to another record.

READ MORE: 4 teens in custody following thefts, attempted carjacking: Winnipeg police

“The numbers are significant in terms of the trendline up,” Const. Rob Carver said. “This year we will easily surpass the numbers of the last five years.

“They’re terrifying … We’ve had instances where there is a child in a car seat and its not altering [the thief’s] behaviour.”

Carjackings are also leading to police chases, shootings, and more violent crime, said Carver.

“They’re ramming police cruisers to get away — one we had to shoot at somebody,” he said. “That is extreme levels of violence, also levels historically we have not seen.”

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Carver said in the past, most of the carjackings tended to happen in specific areas of the city but now, they are happening everywhere.

“I’ve watched it spread throughout the city,” Carver said. “We are seeing carjacks in areas that you would just not expect it… shopping malls and places where we tell people you’ll be safe.”

Police stats show carjackings are on the rise in Winnipeg
Police stats show carjackings are on the rise in Winnipeg

Police said the problem involves a combination of guns, gangs and meth.

“We know carjackings have a link to meth,” he said.

“When you’re a meth user and you can get your hands on a weapon, that vehicle right there is either money or a way to get money.”

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It’s a sentiment echoed by one expert based in Boston.

“In desperate times that means desperate measures,” Robert Siciliano, CEO of Safr.Me told Global News.

“When there is a part of the population that is experiencing desperation… they are acting out in a number of ways to get paid.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg police say suspects in chase connected to shooting, carjacking

Siciliano said car parts can lead to lucrative payouts at chop shops and online resale sites.

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“Depending on the make and model there could be rims and tires in and of themselves that could go for a couple of thousand dollars,” Siciliano said.

“The electronics… a lot of these parts can go for several hundred or several thousand dollars per device.”

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Siciliano said one of the best things drivers can do is to always be aware of their surroundings and have an exit strategy.

“If I’m stopped at a light… look to see if I can jump a curb or go over a median,” he said.

“I look around the perimeter of my vehicle… situational awareness.”

Carjackings happening more often in Winnipeg
Carjackings happening more often in Winnipeg