Carjackers targeted almost every Minneapolis neighborhood last year.
Police recorded more than 640 attempted or successful carjackings throughout the city — that's almost two per day, setting residents on edge and confounding law enforcement.
All but seven of the city's 87 neighborhoods recorded at least one incident, but they were most heavily concentrated along a swath from Longfellow across the Midtown areas of Powderhorn and Phillips, stretching into Whittier and regions of Uptown.
Other hot spots included parts of the North Side and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood near the University of Minnesota's East Bank.
It is difficult to make comparisons to previous years because Minneapolis police didn't start tracking carjackings as a separate statistic until fall 2020. They reported 170 incidents that year. Previously, these crimes were typically lumped in with robberies.
Carjacking is the act of stealing a vehicle by force or threat, sometimes with a weapon. Many carjackings in Minneapolis have occurred at intersections, in busy parking lots and occasionally when people are parking in their garages.
Carjackings started trending upward in early 2021, then somewhat declined over the summer before a significant surge hit during the autumn months. Police data show more than 100 reported carjacking incidents in November alone.
There were double the number of carjackings in the last three months of 2021 compared with the same time span the year before.
Already in the first week of January, police data showed a pace of about one carjacking per day.
Teenagers and young adults are reported as common suspects in carjacking cases, often abandoning the cars somewhere nearby and rarely attempting to sell the vehicle or its parts.
This wave of violent carjackings isn't confined to Minneapolis, with St. Paul and other surrounding jurisdictions also reporting upticks. The trend has swept through major cities across the country, including Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Comparable data from St. Paul and metro suburbs is not readily available.
Last year, authorities logged more than 4,000 automobile thefts in Minneapolis — a 40% increase over prepandemic numbers. Thefts of items from vehicles were up 17% and topped more than 5,000 incidents two years running, while a rash of catalytic converter thefts also boomed across the Twin Cities.
Carjackings were among several violent crimes that reached record levels in Minneapolis the past dozen months, alongside spikes in other robberies, aggravated assaults and the city's worst year for homicides in a generation.