Most thieves work in the dark, in the shadows, trying to avoid the law and the eyes of the public. But, in Detroit, the mecca of crime and depression, thieves treat the area like the wild, wild west. They are taking what they want, when they want, and it doesn’t matter who sees them.
For many citizens of Detroit, this criminal attitude and uprising is making the area a frightening place to live. Actually, things have gotten so bad that many people are afraid to even pump gas for fear of carjacking from armed thieves.
That’s right; gas station carjacking has become so common in certain parts of the desolate city that the entire area has been coined, “Carjack City.”
Over the last five years, Detroit has averaged approximately 1,000 car thefts per year, which is the highest in the country (Newark actually has a higher per capita rate, though). But what makes the problem so terrorizing is that the criminals will strike no matter the circumstances, terrorizing people and causing them to feel as though they are never safe.
Check out this story that ran in the Associated Press:
Sharlonda Buckman, executive director of a Detroit nonprofit, was at a gas station on an October morning when she ran inside for aspirin. Back inside her SUV, she was just closing the door when she saw a carjacker shove his gun inside.
She screamed and jumped out of the vehicle. The carjacker jumped in and drove off. Three other customers gave chase in their vehicles. One caught up to the SUV and got shot in the leg by the carjacker.
Buckman was lucky to survive her incident, but others have died at the hands of these criminals, including CVS security guard Courtney Meeks and 68 year old Donald Bradshaw. Both died in February of this year. Meeks was shot to death while trying to stop a robbery, and Bradshaw was gruesomely beaten to death with a tire iron.
Now, the city is fighting back. Gas station owners are working with police to morph their establishments into “lighthouses” to try and scare off potential thieves. At these lighthouses, gas station owner display pale green decals, set up security cameras, and have emergency phones setup to help victims call for help.
Detroit Sergeant Michael Woody says, “There is a waiting list. We have so many gas stations that want to become a lighthouse. You get better protection with that big sticker in the window that tells criminals there is proper equipment that will help police investigate these crimes.”
Also, to help battle these crimes, the city has formed a special police team that is solely aimed at dealing with this issue. The city has also started a campaign to spread the word about stiffer penalties for thieves. These penalties include prison sentences, death penalties for thieves that murder, and billboards around the city that will showcase the faces of these criminals.
The city hopes that this will be enough to erase the “Carjack City” moniker.