Police warn suburbanites as carjackings move beyond Minneapolis

"This is the first [time] where victims have been confronted and faced with weapons," a suburban police department said as urban crime trickles into traditionally safer neighborhoods.

A Minneapolis woman is carjacked by two men earlier this year. (Twitter/screenshot)

Police say Twin Cities suburbanites should be on high alert as armed carjackers are extending their operations beyond the city limits.

The Twin Cities have been plagued by increased carjackings since a crime wave hit the metro area following the George Floyd riots. Traditionally a problem relegated to the most dangerous neighborhoods, carjackings are now occurring in suburbs. Police are cautioning residents of suburbs to remain on guard, even in areas usually thought to be safe.

Specifically, carjackings have occurred in Roseville, Oakdale and Woodbury.

Last week, two young teenage boys held a woman at gunpoint as she exited Xperience Fitness club near 1650 County Road B2 in Roseville. They stole her Jeep Grand Cherokee. About one hour later, the vehicle was pursued into St. Paul by police. The chase ended with three boys ages 13, 14 and 15 as well as two girls ages 13 and 14 in custody, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told local media.

Another Roseville woman was victimized in a similar fashion, but her attacker struck her in the head with a gun, leaving her badly cut, reports Roseville Deputy Police Chief Joe Adams.

A similar string of carjackings and armed robberies occurred east of the city Monday evening, inside a 45 minute time frame between 8:15 and 9 p.m. A blue Jaguar was stolen outside a Woodbury Target store while a white Honda Accord was carjacked nearby.

Moments later, a criminal used a gun to steal a woman’s purse and phone at a Woodbury Chick-Fil-A. Another robbery was attempted at a nearby grocery store in Oakdale.

Suburban police told local media that this level of violence is highly unusual: “Over the summer, we saw strings of opportunistic auto thefts, but this is the first where victims have been confronted and faced with weapons.”

A 75-year-old man was also killed in Brooklyn Park by a fleeing thief recently after the criminal allegedly tried to take a construction trailer. When police confronted the suspect, they drove away in a blue Ford pickup. Officers did not give chase until the vehicle began to drag a long section of a fence it had run over, creating further danger to the public. Police then pursued the suspect and the dragging fence struck a vehicle driven by the 75-year-old man, who died of his injuries Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, carjackings in Minneapolis itself continue at a higher rate than is historically normal. As of Wednesday, the city’s crime map shows that 30 carjackings have been reported over the last two weeks. This is only a small portion of the 440+ carjackings reported to the police so far this year, 12 of which occurred as part of a crime spree between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1.

In 2019, there were only 104 carjacking-related incidents in Minneapolis, per local media. There were 405 carjackings in the city in 2020.