Carjackings so common that police warn drivers against getting out of vehicle after fender bender

Carjackings are so common in Minneapolis that police warn against pulling over and getting out of your vehicle even if you're involved in a fender bender.

Carjackers attack a mother in Minneapolis last year. (Twitter/screenshot)

The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) recently warned residents about new ways criminals are gaining access to peoples’ homes and luring them into carjackings.

The “department has seen an increase in robberies and specifically home invasions,” according to a recent email alert from the police. “Two or more suspects are following victims by car, to their home and robbing them. These suspects are reported to be armed and some victims have been physically assaulted.”

According to MPD, carjackings are so common that it’s no longer safe to exit a vehicle if it’s involved in a fender bender. MPD described “bumping into your car” as a means of “how carjackers lure victims.” After your vehicle is bumped, “you might be tempted to pull over — only to have your car taken,” the police warned. “Stay inside with the windows shut and the door locked and, if you feel a threat, drive to the nearest police or fire station.”

MPD’s message also offered some safety tips to help Minneapolis residents avoid becoming victims of crime. For example, they advised people who carry weapons to keep them on their person. “The tool or weapon must be at hand at the moment needed (not in a bag, under the car seat or in the glove compartment) and you have to know how to use it properly,” the email said. Experts agree that if somebody chooses to carry a gun, the most responsible and effective way to do so is on one’s person, not in a bag or other receptacle — called “off body” carry.

Police are not exaggerating the danger drivers face. “Between car thefts and carjackings (robbery with car theft), there have been a total of 3879 cars taken” in Minneapolis in 2021, according to an analysis performed by resident Steve Taylor, who mapped out every reported carjacking in the city this year and last. As of November, there had been about 300% more carjackings this year than in 2019.

Meanwhile, reports from victims and would-be victims abound on social media. One person told of a suspicious vehicle which trailed him “aggressively.”

“They followed me today around 4:40pm near 34th & Dupont Ave S,” the person wrote in a message to Crime Watch Minneapolis. “I began running stop signs and stop lights but they stayed right behind me. I eventually had to drive very recklessly into oncoming traffic multiple times through red lights to evade them.”

Others haven’t been so lucky, like a 70-year-old woman who lost her vehicle and dog to a robber last month.