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Las Vegas police alert public to surge in carjackings

Updated February 18, 2021 - 12:44 pm

Las Vegas police said Thursday they have seen a sharp increase in carjackings and car burglaries across the Las Vegas Valley this year.

Capt. Fred Haas of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Summerlin Area Command said at a news briefing that there have been 17 carjackings in the valley this year. He said that represents a 30 percent increase over the same period in 2020.

“Geographically they are all across the valley,” Haas said. “There is not one area command that is getting hit harder than others. They are looking for that easy victim anywhere around the valley. It could be on the east side, the west side, it doesn’t matter.”

Police did not provide the locations where each of the 17 carjackings occurred.

Among the crimes was a carjacking of a older adult on Feb. 5 at the intersection of West Flamingo Road and Fort Apache Road. Police said the man was approached by two men with firearms while at an ATM. The assailants robbed the man of his vehicle and fled the area.

Another carjacking in Las Vegas also unfolded at an ATM in the early-morning hours, Haas said, without providing details on the location or date of that crime.

Police believe about 50 percent of the crimes are being committed by juveniles. Haas said that in early February, a pair of youths partnered with an adult to carry out two carjackings. Police arrested the trio on their way to carry out a third, Haas said. The names of those arrested were not released.

“One of the things we have to do as a community is get around these kids,” Haas said. “They are not in school, they’ve got a lot of free time, and Metro is working with intervention officers getting out there and making contact with these kids before they go down a road of violence, this road of gangs, and destruction of their lives.”

The crimes described by Haas come as several law enforcement agencies across the nation report an increase in carjackings, according to National Public Radio.

“There are a lot of theories on what could be causing this,” Haas said. “Some of it is socio-economic, and some of it is just a crime of opportunity. That’s typically what we’ve seen from our suspects locally. They are looking for crimes of opportunity.”

Haas also said there has been an increase in burglaries to vehicles across the valley this year. Those crimes, he said, are mostly being committed by minors. He encouraged residents to simply be aware of their surroundings and to, at all times, report any suspicious activity they observe to police.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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