Carjackings are nothing new to Newark, a city that was among the nation’s worst for such crimes in the 1990s, says the New York Times. Like other cities, Newark saw the carjacking total fall in later years. Now they have returned with a vengeance. In 2007, there were 208 reported carjackings in all of New Jersey. In 2012, there were 345 in Newark alone, 56 of which took place in December. Already this year, there had been 475 carjackings in Essex County as of Friday, the vast majority in Newark. New York City had seen 159 carjackings this year as of Friday, and there has been a decline over the last five years. One law enforcement official in New Jersey likened the trend in Newark to a “ride-share program” for criminals.
The rise in carjackings comes at a time when Newark is recording high rates of other violent crimes. With a population of less than 300,000, Newark has already seen at least 100 murders this year, and the feeling of lawlessness among some residents is palpable. Law enforcement officials and criminologists said Newark's proximity to major ports has contributed to the increase, giving thieves the ability to move stolen cars quickly to overseas markets. In some cases, carjackers are looking for a car they can use to commit another crime and then dump. Some are targets of opportunity; others are orchestrated by organized car-theft rings that send vehicles for resale in Africa. This year, the victims included a politician, an off-duty police officer and a police sergeant. The trend is so acute that it has inspired a Twitter account, @NewarkCarjacked, which alerts followers to most new cases.